Ileana Olmos

Ileana Olmos

"Contributing to our field by finding our voice in the world"

College: Fine Arts
Degree Program: Art History
Degree: Doctoral

Why FSU?

I was working as an archaeological conservator for the Florida Division of Historical Resources/Conservation Lab. While I was delighted to work with an outstanding team of professionals, I had a burning desire to continue researching Mesoamerica's material, visual culture, and heritage. I learned through a new friend, a museum educator for the State of Florida, that the Department of Art History at FSU offered attractive opportunities to pursue my research interests, so I decided to apply.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree

I started thinking about pursuing a postgraduate degree at the beginning of my undergraduate studies in art and architectural  in Panamá. I knew I wanted to deepen my knowledge and pursue a specialty in the cultural heritage field. When I finally moved to the United States, this desire grew deeper. Every time I would meet or speak to a graduate student, their assertions filled me with awe and curiosity, not knowing how this would become such a big part of my life and never anticipating pursuing two masters degrees; one in historic preservation, University of Florida, and the other in conservation sciences, University College London in Qatar. I was equally intimidated, terrified, and excited by the idea of such challenges, but I would do it all over again.

Importance and/or impact of research and work

I greatly respect researchers across any field of study as it is through them that discoveries, innovations, and knowledge are disseminated, impacting the world inside and outside the academy. In the case of my doctoral research, it has become a personal quest for understanding the diaspora of my African ancestry. I desire to leave a legacy to a population that continues to be invisible since colonial times in the Americas, specifically in the Panamanian Caribbean.

Career aspirations

I aspire to continue to be part of the cultural heritage field and collaborate in promoting the preservation and conservation of intangible and tangible cultural heritage. My most recent commitment consists of dedicating my time to disseminating objective research work on issues of African and Indigenous cultures of the Atlantic/Caribbean and beyond.

Advice for anyone considering graduate school

Graduate school is a journey; therefore, we are prone to experience detours, satisfaction, frustrations, and joy. No formula can fit everyone; however, persistence, hard work, dedication, and humor are vital ingredients that can help your academic walk. Developing good research can be both a challenge and a joy, but taking care of our mental health and having activities outside the classroom are crucial to balancing grad school life. Being part of a supportive group, social organization, and community is also essential. FSU offers many academic, social, psychological, and recreational resources annually. Make sure to take advantage of these resources and seek advice in your departments through your faculty, as they guide you and encourage your success.

Accomplishments during graduate career

During the 2021-2022 academic year, I served as a mentor through "Connections," a mentorship program in the Art History Department. This program is developed to retain professional and productive art historians in many fields. Graduate mentors direct and guide undergraduate mentees by providing awareness of campus resources and opportunities, encouraging academic success, and organizing social gatherings and various activities. While at the University College London, I served as an advisory body for the ICCROM- ATHAR, Arab section at the 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar.