In seventh grade I became a Junior Docent (or JuDo) at the OJAC. The Junior Docent Program is a teen volunteer program at the museum that teaches local 13-16 year olds about visual arts and culture as well as museum work. My older brother had also been a Junior Docent and later an intern at OJAC. As any younger sibling does, I looked up to my brother and aspired to have the same experiences!

I’ve always been creative with a passion for art- and the Education Director at the museum pushed each of the Junior Docents to trust and pursue these interests. I remember being excited for our Wednesday meetings to come every week so that I could feel a sense of belonging and involvement in something creative- something that made me feel unique. I spent the next 3 years working family and public events, preparing supplies for programs, learning how to study and speak about art and what it is like to work at a museum. I was certain of my “yes” answer when the Education Director asked me to join their High School Intern program at the end of my Sophomore year. The OJAC had become my second home by this time, and I felt as if I could be my true self, (weird, quirky, creative, etc.) She always took the time to teach, help, and mentor and I looked up to her throughout Jr. high and High School.

As high school graduation approached I remember looking back on my growth during my 6 years at the OJAC. I had gone from being shy to confidant, gaining public speaking and organizational skills. The Education Director had not only helped my love for art grow, but also pushed me out of my comfort zone and shaped me into someone who felt like I could conquer anything I put my mind to.

After graduating from AHS I attended Dental Assisting School and moved to Austin for work, I spent a year working with an incredible dentist, but Austin was just too big for a small town girl. I moved back to Albany and reconnected with the Ed Director in July of 2018 (not that we ever really lost touch). She informed me that the museum was seeking an interim Admin Assistant. I gladly said yes, as being back at the OJAC (even for a short period of time) was a happy and familiar feeling. As I worked in an interim capacity I decided to apply for the full-time position during their candidate search. I was thrilled they decided to hire me full time starting January 1st of this year. It’s a position where I get to interact with my community, visitors from all over the world, and be a part of a team of creative people who share my passions for art and history.

Life has a funny way of bringing you back to your roots when you feel like you are lost. Austin was not ‘me,’ but Albany was somewhere I knew I could be my true self. My student experiences at the museum helped shape me into who I am today; they gave me a great work ethic, problem solving skills and can-do attitude.  I am incredibly grateful the OJAC has these great programs to teach, mentor and inspire young students. I know that I am not the only example of the impact of these programs in our small town. The museum’s Junior Docent and HS Internship programs have impacted the lives of many of Albany’s youth and I hope they continue for years to come.

-Tatum Green, Administrative Assistant and Visitor Services Coordinator