Meet the 2021 April Award and Student Scholar Recipients

The April Award recognizes an emerging professional in visitor studies who demonstrates leadership potential and great promise and contributions to the field. Student Scholarships are awarded to up to three students and/or recent graduates who have exhibited a dedication to visitor studies and hope to learn more about the field.

Due to the cancellation of VSA's 2020 Annual Conference, the following Student Scholar Recipients will be recognized at the 2021 Virtual Annual Conference.


2021 April Award Recipient

Alexa Swan

Alexa Swan is the 2020-2021 April Award recipient. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelors and Masters in Elementary Education. After a brief stint teaching second grade, she moved into the world of informal education working at the Minnesota Historical Society and Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Alexa is currently the Learning Experiences Specialist at Como and works on education and engagement campus wide through the ROADMAP (Reaching Our Audiences by Developing Mission Aligned Programs) initiative. Through this project and her role on the campus Equity Change Team, she has learned to use Team-Based Inquiry and Focused Conversation to help create cross-departmental spaces for staff and volunteers to be actively engaged in creating systems and tools that last. Alexa is excited to connect with professionals in the field and learn about evaluation strategies and systems that can be used both when an institution has and doesn’t have designated evaluation staff.


2021 Student Scholar Recipients

Brianna Durkin Headshot

Brianna Durkin

Brianna Durkin was selected as a 2020 VSA Conference Scholarship Winner. As a recent graduate of the Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis Museum Studies Master's program, Brianna enters the field with a passion for data and a determination to create educational opportunities for people of all abilities. She hopes to utilize her knowledge and work in visitor studies by amplifying the voices of visitors to those who create museum experiences and collaborating with exhibit and program developers to make museums more accessible spaces for all. She is excited to attend the conference in order to meet like-minded individuals and continue her own education by learning from experts in the field who are devoted to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.


Morgan Romero Headshot

Morgan Romero

Morgan Romero graduated from the University of Washington Masters of Museology program in June 2020 with a focus in museum evaluation.  Since then she has accepted a position at the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Downtown Seattle as their Museum and Education Assistant.  She believes that being a 2020/21 VSA Student Scholar will help her become a part of the discourse for how evaluators can most effectively listen to their diverse audiences, especially at smaller institutions who do not currently have comprehensive evaluation practice in place.  She is most interested in using the information and network she gains from her involvement in VSA to explore the most innovative trends in the field in order to best advocate for evaluation’s continued use in museum spaces.


Renee Hoffman Headshot

Renee Hoffman

Renee Hoffman, who received her M.A. in Museum Studies at the University of the Arts, was selected as a scholarship recipient for the 2020 VSA Conference. Her master’s thesis research focuses on how museums in the U.S. can incorporate languages other than English to forge mutually beneficial relationships with their local heritage-language speaking communities. Prior to entering the museum field, Renee was an ESL teacher for five years, first working with adult, multinational language learners in the United States, then middle school and high school students in Madrid. She looks forward to further considering how the museum field can increase the presence of languages other than English as a strategy for broadening access and inclusion.


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Consider making a donation to the Visitor Studies Association!