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Goucher Today

Low-residency grad students come to campus

Low-residency students

By Jacob deNobel

For most of the year, students in Goucher’s four low-residency graduate programs work remotely, taking classes online, participating in Zoom discussions, and pursue their research independently. But once a year, these students come together for a weeklong residency on the Goucher campus—taking classes; attending field trips, lectures, and workshops; and receiving a hands-on experience to prepare them for work in their fields.

For Caitlin Smith Saavedra ’22, it was this hybrid model—remote work for most of the year, with a high-intensity in-person component—that drew her to Goucher’s M.A. in Cultural Sustainability Program.

When COVID hit, Saavedra said she found herself home with newfound free time and figured going back to school would be the most productive use of the experience.

“The low-residency aspect of this was very important to me,” Saavedra says. “It was a great middle ground between being online and just doing your own thing and having a community aspect, which is very important to this kind of work.”

In addition to the Cultural Sustainability Program, Goucher’s low-residency programs include M.A.s in Historic Preservation and Arts Administration and an M.F.A in Nonfiction.

During residency, students in both the Cultural Sustainability and Historic Preservation programs attended a field trip exploring the proposed Freedom Trail in East Towson. This field trip combined elements of both programs with a history of Towson and the Goucher campus, conversations with current residents of East Towson, and a tour of historically significant locations.

Alicia Hinkle ’22 is studying both historic preservation and cultural sustainability at Goucher. She said her interest in preservation began with her ancestral research. While studying her family, she said, she kept finding research roadblocks in the lack of conservation of segregated and African American cemeteries.

“The low-residency aspect was a draw to the program because I’m from Texas, and I work full time,” Hinkle said. “I have a busy schedule. I’m a mother. Every nontraditional aspect of life, that’s me. I knew this was the program for me because of the flexibility and because of what it had to offer.”

In addition to the flexibility for students’ schedules and locations, the low-residency format also benefits the programs’ curricula. According to Leslie Rubinkowski, director of the M.F.A. in Nonfiction, the low-residency format allows the program to recruit faculty from around the country who excel as writers and teachers of nonfiction.

“Our program provides the best of both virtual and in-person instruction,” Rubinkowski says, “from the ability to work wherever you are, to in-person meetings with expert writers, editors, and agents at our residencies.” The program holds its winter residency in New York City. Students meet with agents and editors during that week to learn about the publishing world and how to navigate it.

In addition to the classroom settings, residency plays an important social function. From meals together at the dining hall to evening events like the Cabaret fundraiser, students take this opportunity to bond. Detria Graham ’24, a student in the Arts Administration Program, says that network building is the greatest strength of the low-residency format.

“After COVID, connectivity is more important than ever,” Graham says. “If we’re going to have a community of arts administrators, it’s important that we meet each other so we can start building that community.”

For more information on Goucher’s graduate programs, visit www.goucher.edu/grad.