After Tara Prout, Lawrence High School class of 2003, graduated from Georgetown University in 2007, and went to work in Manhattan. But quickly realizing she was distancing herself from her true interest of working in museums and with art, Prout made a life-changing decision.
The art history major discovered that Marist College in Poughkeepsie offered a one-year master’s program in museum studies in Florence, Italy. She applied, was accepted, and completed her coursework from August 2011 until May 2012. Then Prout went to Rome to complete the required internship at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Roma and stayed.
“Life here has been less stressful and has made me realize the importance of beautiful surroundings, eating fresh and slowly, spending quality time with those I care about and slowing down to take in and absorb each moment,” the Inwood native said. “Oh, and the importance of gelato, of course!”
Working part-time for the master’s program in Florence as an administrative assistant and freelance translator has allowed Prout to remain in Italy for longer than she originally anticipated. “The master’s program has offered me some incredible opportunities to work with and learn from some of the top museum professionals in Florence,” she said. “I have been able to travel and see parts of Italy and Europe that I had not seen before, including hiking in Cinque Terre and trips to Germany and Ireland. This Easter, I was able to attend Easter Vigil mass at the Vatican — Pope Francis’ first vigil as pope — that was truly an awesome moment.”
Though Prout’s parents, Cathleen and Allan, miss her very much, they said that living in Italy was a unique opportunity for their daughter. “It’s a great time for a young ambitious person to go, travel and learn,” Allan said.
“She’s our only child, and having her so far away was a bit difficult,” Cathleen added. “When she decided to live there, it was even more difficult, but I knew she was following her heart and her dreams, so we were okay with it. Also, we can Skype, email, text and stay in touch by phone.”
Prout said her educational years in the Lawrence School District prepared her to live and function within an increasingly diverse and global world. “Students at Lawrence are fortunate to be exposed to and learn from different ethnicities and religions during their formative years,” she said. “I was taught how to set goals and the value of honest, hard work in achieving them, how to act professionally, the importance of being a member of a team and that value of integrity. All of those lessons and qualities have helped me get to where I am today.”
She is planning to return to New York this August and find employment due to the depressed Italian job market. Prout would like to find a job that allows her to travel and see art exhibitions as much as possible and return to Europe.
“I’d like to be back in Italy,” she said. “I have also considered working for the United Nation’s agency, UNESCO, which is devoted to education, science and culture, so we’ll see what happens.”