Student Spotlight: Aaryanna Baptiste ’24

When Aaryanna Baptiste ’24 began her internship last summer, she never expected the photos she was taking for fun to be taken seriously – or that she’d even be taking many photos at all. She was interning at the Abrons Arts Center on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to learn about arts education. But when the social media team saw her images, her job changed. She became the in-house and event photographer that day. 

“When the social media team put my pictures online, I saw I was contributing to something bigger than me,” she said. “It was really special.”

Aaryanna has always loved photography, and has studied photography every year possible. But she was still surprised when her photography teacher, Visual Arts Chair Mary Boulton Haling, lent her a camera for the summer.

“I guess she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” she said. 

After using the camera all summer, Aaryanna bought one of her own that she continued to use at the Arts Center when they asked her to continue her internship through the fall.

Aaryanna loved her role as photographer, but the most important thing she gained from her experience was a deeper understanding of the need for arts education. As funding is steered toward STEM fields, arts education is being undervalued, especially in public schools. 

“To be in a space with other people of color, and be looking toward educating young people, young minds, towards arts, and showing them what the possibilities are, was super valuable to me,” she said. “The arts have such an incredible value. We have to actively put time and effort into elevating these spaces and young minds because that’s going to be the next generation of artists, and the next generation of thinkers.”

Aayranna will attend Swarthmore in the fall, where she plans to study English and photography.