Erin seems to be everywhere. I see her riding her bike across campus and in pictures of fashion events across the Lowcountry.  She’s also an MPA graduate and works for the Division of Marketing and Communication. The one thing I always notice, however, is her prodigious fashion sense. I am delighted to introduce our newest guest blogger, Erin Perkins.

Photo Courtesy: C of C Magazine

I see every moment as an opportunity to inspire others.  It may be to encourage others to go vote for a local politician, other times it is to inspire prospective students to inquire about the College of Charleston, and sometimes I hope to influence a local style maven to wear a Prussian blue gown to the latest society function.

See, I’ve started a new endeavor.  Sewing, designing … worrying if anyone will want to wear my pieces.  If any of you have picked up the latest College of Charleston magazine, you’ve seen what I’ve been up to lately.

So how did I get here from a Masters of Public Administration degree?

In the interview to be admitted to the MPA program at the College of Charleston, the then-director of the program asked,  “Do you really, really like government?”  My answer?  “I suppose it’s a necessary evil to what I want to accomplish.”  Why they let me in the program, I may never know.

What I wanted to accomplish was cultivation of the arts and arts education in a climate that was increasingly contentious towards funding or support. I was attracted to the MPA program at the College because of the Arts Management Program.

From the online description:  “Arts managers learn a broad range of management and administrative skills, and apply those skills in their work with artists and art institutions.  Arts managers can be versatile in their career paths. In addition to being trained for work in the nonprofit arts sector, an arts manager possesses transferable management skills for work in a variety of service organizations, educational institutions, government agencies, and community planning fields. Graduate studies in Arts Management leads to the perfect professional blend of inspiration and gratification.”

I’ve held several internships with various arts organizations including Redux Contemporary Art Center and the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, so I knew that arts management was a perfect fit for me. After graduation, I was promoted to my current position at the College of Charleston.  I am currently the art director for the Office of Advertising and Brand Management in the Division of Marketing and Communications.  I was able to translate what I learned in the MPA program to working within a government institution in an arts capacity.

Wait … so where does sewing fit in?

Structure, patience, a consciousness of the public: these qualities make a good administrator or fashion designer. Sound like a stretch?  Well, how about this explanation. The MPA program not only taught me about bureaucracy and administration, it also taught me how to be a good networker, how to approach problems with an analytical mind, and how to work hard for what you want to accomplish – skills I use everyday in art direction or fashion design.

Sewing started as a hobby, but after a stretch of good press (remember those networking skills?), I’ve decided to start my first collection. With some luck and lots of hard work, it will debut in Charleston this year. Perhaps I’ll name my line W. Woodrow, after the American father of public administration. Or perhaps not.

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