“My interests are like any other college senior,” says Aubrey Boothe. “Trying to find time to watch the 10 or 20 amazing TV shows this fall, waiting for the day when I will read a book that is not for class, writing and stressing over my tutorial, beefing up my resume in preparation for the job market after I graduate, and wondering where the in the world the past four years went.” Sounds crazy, but Aubrey has it under control. She’s the Vice President of the Chatham Apartments Residence Hall Council, she holds a work study job at the PACE Center, and she recently wrapped up her responsibilities as Volunteer Coordinator for THATCamp Pittsburgh. We spoke with Aubrey about what it actually takes to help create a first-of-its-kind event in Pittsburgh while finishing up her college career.
Why did you choose Chatham?
I chose Chatham because of the small, intimate class sizes and the strong sense of community. I went to community college before I transferred to Chatham last year, and I knew I was already comfortable in a small college setting. Then when I talked with the students and teachers and saw the beautiful campus, I knew I wanted to earn my degree here.
What do you love most about being a Cougar?
All the awesome people I have met and the amazing opportunities I would not have access to if I went to another school. For instance, I attended the PCWP’s New Leadership program this past summer and I went for free because of my status as a Chatham student.
What are you studying?
I am studying history at Chatham, as well as completing a minor in Art Museum Studies. I have always had a sincere love for history, and museum studies has been an interest of mine for several years. I think having the ability to use artwork and historical artifacts to relate concepts and make people reflect on the past is one of most noble and challenging pursuits.
How did you get involved with THATCamp?
I heard about THATCamp from Samantha Parish. She and I have the same major and minor, so we have a lot of the same classes. Last spring she told me about this unconference that was developed by George Mason University that is centered around integrating the technologies and the humanities. She really stressed the importance
What was your role within the planning process?
After Sam told me about the unconference and I expressed interest, she asked me to coordinate volunteers for the event. It was mostly a task of organization and communication with all dozen or so volunteers. I talked with some students from CMU and Chatham about what times they were available to volunteer communicated to them their responsibilities for the weekend of the event. I was also Sam’s right-hand woman for majority of the weekend, helping her setup and prepare in the morning and assisting with a few things here and there throughout the day.
What did you love most about preparing for THATCamp?
I loved the fact that we were holding both Chatham’s and Pittsburgh’s very first THATCamp, like we were forging our own path. It made the tenets of Chatham’s “World Ready Woman” message really clear to me, and made me feel like I was doing something important and innovative.
What was the most challenging element of the experience?
Organizing groups of people, as a rule, is not an easy task. Some people don’t reply to your emails, show up late, or don’t show up at all, and you have to be flexible enough to fill in the gaps and prepare plan B. I made every effort to stay in continuous communication with volunteers in the weeks leading up to the event, and that weekend. I wanted everyone to have a positive volunteering experience, while also being able to attend the featured workshops they were interested in.
Take us through the actual event. What did you do during the weekend?
Sam and I set up a few things on Friday the 4th before the event on Saturday morning. Then we started setting up tables and organizing around 7am Saturday morning. After that, we mostly went with the flow and remained flexible throughout the day, which is what an unconference is all about. I went to a workshop in every time slot available and met some really interesting people from an array of disciplines. Networking and discussing ways of integrating technology and humanities with these knowledgeable professionals really opened my eyes to the value of attending unconferences like this as an undergrad. You learn so much!
What was your favorite part?
My favorite part was attending workshops and meeting people that I would have never had the opportunity to otherwise. I suffered from information overload after the first few hours, but once you have some time to comprehend everything, the experience is so rewarding.
Would you assist with planning or attend another THATCamp in the future?
I definitely would! I know there are some really interesting ones coming up next year and I would love to attend them. If any of the underclassmen decided to continue holding THATCamp Pittsburgh on Chatham’s campus I would love to help in any way I can. I really believe it would serve the university and the city well if we continued to make this a tradition.
Now that your time at Chatham is almost over, what do you want to do after college?
After I graduate in the spring, I would love to work in an entry-level position in one of the museums in the city. I plan on going to graduate school sometime in the near future, but not right after completing my bachelor’s. I want to take a little time to work in the field, and take a break from being a student for a little while. However, I do love being a student and many positions in museums and history centers require a Master’s, so I will be back to the ole collegiate grindstone eventually. I would love to get my PhD one day, but that is a dream for the faraway future.