Paths to Explore in the Liberal Arts

Senior Hannah Robar has explored the full range of what a liberal arts education has to offer during her time at Michigan State University. From incredible experiences studying abroad, hands-on internships, and a truly unique set of courses, Robar, who is graduating in May, has engaged with communities around the world and right here in East Lansing.

A double major in Global Studies and Studio Art with a concentration in Photography and two minors in Art History and Chinese, four study abroad experiences, and several internships, Robar has bridged the technical and the creative for a truly unique undergraduate experience.

“One of my favorite parts of MSU is the sense of community and mixing of cultures,” she said. “MSU and the College of Arts & Letters really do allow you to gain the skills to look at the world critically and challenge things you used to let go by.”

One of my favorite parts of MSU is the sense of community and mixing of cultures.

A Michigan native, Robar returned to the state from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where she lived with her family during high school. The number of degree options and the quality of programs drew her to MSU, where she explored all her areas of interest. And once here, advisors helped her switch from Advertising to Studio Art early on in her undergraduate career, and from there, she continued to expand her education to truly fit her interests.

Hannah Robar with medium format camera

“I loved all of my Studio Art classes and having the technical information for my photography, but I missed having an international exposure that I was used to,” Robar said. “So I found the Global Studies program and it allowed me to look at the world as a form of cultural understanding, to add to that art perspective that I was already getting.”

Within the Global Studies program, Robar explored her interests and continued creating her own unique curriculum. Her concentration of comparative cultures within Global Studies gave her the opportunity to take other classes within the College of Arts & Letters like classes in Philosophy of Feminism, Muslim Studies, and an in-depth Art History class.

“Having that flexibility to choose classes that interest me has been very beneficial to my work,” Robar said. “My feminism course strongly influenced the photography work I’ve been doing my senior year and has influenced what I want to do in the future.”

Hannah Robar hanging art in a gallery

For her senior project, she used her Global Studies research skills to sift through archived photos and advertisements from the 50s depicting women in a certain light. Using her findings, her photography work showcases the effects of representation on women at the time and in modern day.

Robar’s additional major of Chinese has reinforced her passion for language learning, understanding culture, and MSU’s study abroad programs.

Hannah Robar at the Great Wall of China

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to do four study abroad trips during my time at MSU,” Robar said. Starting with a freshman seminar abroad to New Zealand, she also travelled to both Shanghai and northern China for Chinese language and internship trips, and most recently to Dubai for a Global Studies trip focused on globalization and consumerism.

“Studying abroad has given me a broader view of the world,” Robar said. Though she has already had some global experiences from living abroad and traveling with her family, an MSU study abroad allowed her to focus on specific issues and to have incredible access to the actual challenges and culture of a place.

MSU and the College of Arts & Letters really do allow you to gain the skills to look at the world critically and challenge things you used to let go by.

With three of her four study abroad experiences requiring a language other than English, Robar understands the impact of knowing another language.

“Learning a language gives you empathy toward other people who are trying to learn the native language and effectively communicate and understand cultural differences,” she said. “Being able to talk to someone from a different culture and break the misconceptions on both sides is important, and language is the key to doing that.”

Hannah Robar at a waterfall

On top of her global experiences, Robar has had meaningful real-world internships right here in East Lansing. She is a gallery intern for the Department of Art, Art History, and Design, and works at all on-campus galleries, as well as [SCENE] Metrospace. She also is a social media and outreach intern at the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA) and works with the MSU languages campaign.

“I’ve gained great practical skills from both of my internships, like event planning and community outreach as well as how to effectively engage people in things that they are not always comfortable with or knowledgeable about,” Robar said.

Following graduation, Robar plans to pursue a career in photography and communications in meaningful sectors that will allow her to continue to engage in work in which she can use her diverse skills and instill her passions.