Bria Aruska Dean
  College: Van Mildert College
  Subject: MA in Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects
  Class of: 2021
  Location: The Bahamas

Your Durham Inspiration

Do you remember why you first chose to study at Durham?

Durham University was my first choice of study because of its good ratings and the structure of the program. Although it was intense, I knew that it would allow me to be diverse in my career- diversity was important to the work I intended on doing post-graduation.

Tell us about any sports, societies or clubs you were involved in at Durham.

Because I travelled so far to study it was important for me to be a part of a community. I joined my college’s common room. It was really nice to hang out with a group of international students who enjoyed playing games and having pizza! More importantly, my cohort was a type of society in its self. I was blessed to study with a group of like-minded, kind-hearted, and simply brilliant people. Considering there was little time to be involved in much else, this we did everything together, encouraging each other along the way.

What work or moment were you were most proud of at Durham?

My proudest moment was during my academic placement at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth. I was given my first large object and was initially intimidated by it- the size, weight, and historical significance of the object. Through support from my placement and academic supervisors (through the pandemic) I completed conservation treatment on the figurehead of the HMS Victory at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. I spent months researching, testing treatments, and treating the figurehead. It was a sense of accomplishment to influence an analysis that dated the figurehead to 1815 and to preserve a piece of tangible and intangible cultural heritage of the ship.

What are your fondest memories from your time here?

My fondest memories would definitely be walks around the beautiful city of Durham. Those along the river, in fields, and the gardens of historic concrete buildings.

How has Durham inspired you to get to where you are today?

My time at Durham inspired me to always thrive for excellence in my field, to always be ethical, and stand my ground; to remember my why in the things that I do.


What have you been up to since you left Durham?

I am currently working for the governing agency for antiquities, monuments and museums in the country. At current, I am working on a project where I get the opportunity to use my conservation skills and knowledge; I get to educate others and assist with the handling, care and treatment of artefacts.

What are you doing that is most meaningful to you now?

Having the opportunities to share with different age groups. The responses and high levels of engagement always amazes me when I do conservation out reach. Where I come from, conservation is not a career path most have trod/focus on, so it is always exciting when I get the opportunity to introduce people to such an important role in the preservation of our tangible cultural heritage. To be able to share the passion I hold for preserving tangible cultural heritage in a practical way is very fulfilling to me.

Personal interests

As it relates to my field, my interests are to build and expand the discourse of conservation in academia and to build public engagement in my country.

Pass It On

What would be your top piece of advice for current students and/or recent graduates?

For prospective students, I would encourage them to find a supportive community, university is hard. When you have a strong support system to encourage you along the way, it makes it a lot easier to endure. I would also say to find a balance. It's okay to take a break from assignments/study to collect yourself and start again. You would definitely have a clear mind and feel revived- even if it is just 10 minutes, do not feel guilty about it.

To recent graduates, I would say we aim for similar destination, but often have a different path to travel. Do not compare your movements and successes with those around you. Set a goal and try your hardest to achieve that because it is what YOU want. Never forget that comparison is the thief of joy!

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