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Flagler College - A Distinctive Approach to Academics

Student Profile: Kensley Stewart

Graduate Success: Luke Zerra

Luke Zerra

When Luke Zerra graduated from Flagler College last spring, he was faced with a tough choice. Three different graduate schools were in pursuit, each offering full tuition and teaching assistantships.

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Student Profile: Kensley Stewart

Kensley Stewart

Liberal Arts major Kensley Stewart writes, in her own words, about travel, serendipity and her current gig as an intern at The Country Music Hall of Fame.

Read more about Kensley


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Student Profile: Kensley Stewart

Kensley Stewart

Liberal Arts major Kensley Stewart writes, in her own words, about travel, serendipity and her current gig as an intern at The Country Music Hall of Fame.

Coming to Flagler College happened like a lot of decisions in my life—it was unexpected and serendipitous. I had never even heard of St. Augustine until my parents took a vacation to Amelia Island for their 20th wedding anniversary and stumbled upon the Ancient City in their travels. My mom is a huge history buff and fell in love with the town. At the time, I was a junior in high school in the midst of college visits and applications. So far with my college visits, I hadn’t had that “ah-ha” moment where I felt at home. All I knew was that I wanted a school where I wasn’t just a number in a crowded auditorium. But after visiting Flagler, I knew I had found more than that. I came to Flagler because it swept me off my feet. The small class sizes assured me that I would have a personal education. I have to admit that the Hotel Ponce de Leon was a big part of my decision. The beauty and history of our campus blew me away, and I feel lucky to be a part of Henry Flagler’s ongoing legacy.

I also chose the school because of Flagler College’s deep appreciation for Liberal Arts. I knew I would never be a business major or mathematician ... that’s just not how I’m wired. Flagler College, and especially my advisor and philosophy professor Dr. Hugh Marlowe, helped me see the beauty of knowledge in and of itself. I came to college to expand my mind and learn about the world and myself, not to skirt by, spitting out regurgitated lectures. I respect and admire the left-brained people in the world—God knows we need them! But there is nothing to be ashamed of in studying the arts. That is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned at Flagler.

I have had so many incredible experiences, all thanks to Flagler College and my wonderful professors. I think some of the highest points have been the educational travel I’ve been able to experience. My sophomore year I travelled to New Orleans with Dr. Marlowe and other philosophy students for a philosophy conference focused on agency and free will. It was amazing to be able to see how real-life philosophers present their studies.

I also did a study abroad trip this summer to Italy with Dr. Johnson and other Liberal Arts/History/Religion majors. This trip was one of the highlights of my life. Not only was I surrounded by immaculate beauty, wonderful food, and breathtaking art, Dr. Johnson helped meld together all of what we were seeing into relevant academic conversations about the intersections between religion, art, and culture. My mind and heart were expanded, and it is a trip I will cherish forever.

Another huge impact on my time at Flagler has been my part-time job as a tour guide of the Hotel Ponce de Leon that I got the summer before my junior year. With experience as a musician and performer at bars and restaurants downtown, it seemed like the perfect job to work on my public speaking skills and gain some real-life job experience. Even to this day I’m still blown away by the incredible history and beauty of the Ponce, and being able to share my love for the architecture and artifacts with visitors has been amazing. Before working as a tour guide I had no idea how much I loved history and how much I enjoyed customer service, which brings me to how I ended up here in Nashville interning at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

I had the idea that I should look into museum work for an internship. I applied to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., as well as several other museums. I heard back from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum first, had an interview, and accepted their offer to come join the Guest Relations team.

Working at the Hall of Fame has been incredible. We have thousands of artifacts ranging from Mother Maybelle Carter’s legendary 1928 Gibson L-5 to Elvis’s famous gold Cadillac. It is so awesome to be able to experience how a real museum lives and breathes. As an intern, I do a lot of different things. I’ve worked on coupon and expense reports, helped answer phones with the reservation team, helped with special events at the museum like making signs for reserved seats and setting up tables and merchandise. I’ve worked front greet and answered questions in guest services, and I’ve done the typical intern stuff like make copies and put together welcome packets. Every day is different, though. One of the highlights of my time here has been working the Grand Master Fiddler Competition. I was able to hear incredible music by fiddle players from all over the south and midwest.

Everyone wants to know how I plan to make money with a Liberal Arts degree. And the truth is, I don’t have it all figured out. I guess some people have a whole life plan of what they’re going to do when they graduate and when they’re going to get married and how many kids they want and all that, but that’s just not me. All I know is that I want to follow my heart. I’ve followed it to St. Augustine, to Italy, and to Nashville, and I trust its judgment so far. Maybe I’ll end up working in the museum world or back in school to get my masters in Creative Writing or English or Museum Studies. Or maybe I’ll move to Italy for a year and study Italian! Who knows what the world holds for my future? I surely don’t at this point, and that’s fine with me. If you live too much in the future you forget about the present, and that’s the most important part.

And I believe that I ended up where I’m supposed to be. It’s another one of those serendipitous moments ... life’s turns and twists take us places we never thought we’d end up. Some call it karma, God, or luck, but I’m just thankful for all of it.