Photographs and Psychopaths: Molly’s Life as an Artist

Photography and Psychopaths

As a second semester sophomore at Santa Clara University, Molly Stark did not know that she would graduate in 2012 with a double major in Art History and Studio Art (Photography). She did know that she wanted to study abroad in Rome, Italy.

In order to do so, she had to define her major. At the time, she was leaning toward Liberal Studies with an Education emphasis, but an advisor suggested she choose a more focused study. She knew that she had enjoyed the few intro to Art History courses she had taken “and the emphasis on human nature and process—how people of different cultures, times, religions, races, etc. process and relate to art.” So she chose to go ahead and major in art history. Because of the large amount of crossover between Art History and Studio Art, she decided to do a double major.

During her time in Rome, Molly was enrolled in two Art History Classes. In the upper division class, students were assigned a research topic focused on a piece of art or architecture, and were then asked to give a presentation on this topic to their class. Molly was assigned research on a specific part of the Roman Forum. She produced handouts for the rest of her peers and explained the purpose and structure of this area of Rome.

Life After College

Molly has had a couple of freelance jobs since moving to the city. A startup company (LocBox) needed some pictures taken for their website and Molly shot a few of their clients. She also did some food photography for a delivery service startup. You can find her online portfolio here.

Goodie Goody -1 nopalito -1-4

Most of the time Molly works as a nanny. Although there is no direct connection between her majors and this work (apart from giving parents some really cute photos of their children), Molly is grateful for what she was introduced to through her majors.

She feels that they have opened her mind to the exploration of humanity as well as the opinions and discussions of those around her. Learning the theories and interpretations relevant to the study of art history has allowed her to think about the world in different ways. She remains fascinated by human interactions and diverging cultures. Both majors allowed her mind to stretch and expand to gain a fuller understanding of life.

The Future

In the near future she is heading to Peru with a program called UBelong. For two months she will volunteer at an orphanage with children ages 6 to 16. Originally she applied for an art teaching program in Lima, but that program was full. Her volunteer advisor informed her that she would be able to lead art classes with UBelong’s Cusco program and so Molly is going to set that up when she gets there.

It seems like it will be a perfect melding together of Molly’s skills: child care and art. Still, she’s not sure what she’ll do when the program ends.

She has been thinking a lot about going back to school. She’s come to the realization that she is fascinated with the human mind. It was what first intrigued her about her art history classes. Having spent so much time with children and witnessing different family dynamics, she is thinking about pursuing child/family psychology and therapy.

As a former roommate, I can vouch for her intense interest in the human mind. Upon returning from my morning runs, I would find her sitting with a cup of coffee and iPad in hand, reading CNN articles on the latest psychopath mystery case. She was also completely swept up in the book she was reading about a child raised in captivity. She couldn’t get enough of the psychology that went along with the concept of a child growing up knowing nothing but life as a hostage.

Molly may not want to work directly in the field that her majors are “supposed” to lead to, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t benefited from them or that they haven’t shaped her. Through her majors, she was able to discover her interest in the human mind.

After graduating from college the pressure to do what you’re supposed to do can be overwhelming.  As an art history major, Molly might have been expected to become a professor. Instead, she paved her own path, learned more about herself, and had a great time.

During her time as a nanny she has learned that, although she loves children, she does not want to be a nanny for the rest of her life. Now, as she travels to Peru, she is exploring other career locations and possibilities.

Molly Stark

Homework time! If you have doubts about doing what you’re “supposed” to do, challenge them. Now is the time for career experimentation. Give our Explore option a try! Look into fellowship opportunities, online classes you can take, or conducting informational interviews. Come back and tell us how it went. I want to know what sort of career exploration you undertook.


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