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Alumni Profile: Kristen Costa Francoeur ’05 - Finding her voice

June 9, 2010

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Kristen Costa Francoeur ’05 is doing exactly what she wants to do; exactly what she loves to do; exactly what she found was her passion when she came to Franklin Pierce.

After graduating from Pierce and receiving her Master of Arts in Public Humanities from Brown University, Francoeur began working as the Assistant Curator at Newport Restoration Foundation. Founded in 1968 by Doris Duke, its purpose is to preserve, interpret and maintain landscape and objects reflecting Aquidneck Island’s 18th- and 19th- century architectural culture. As assistant curator, Francoeur sets up exhibits, educates tour guides and develops educational programs at Rough Point, Duke’s Newport mansion, Samuel Whitehorne House, a Federal style mansion and museum of Newport furniture, and Prescott Farm, a colonial history site.

Francoeur’s journey to Franklin Pierce began after receiving a brochure in the mail. Her interest, piqued by the promise and diversity of the American Studies degree, she came for a tour, fell in love with the campus and by Christmas break of her senior year in high school, she was accepted into her first (and only) choice school.

“Franklin Pierce really gives you a chance to find yourself, spread your wings and figure out what you want to do in life,” Francoeur says. “The whole humanities department was my backbone. What I learned from the professors and in the classroom really helped nurture my interest in museums.”

Her women in leadership experience with a women studies minor and women in leadership certificate taught her about herself and what her strengths were, and later working as a woman in a professional field, gave her more of an understanding of how everyone fits together – how the world works. “This is a very all encompassing certificate,” said Francoeur.

Finding her voice also earned Francoeur a Fitzwater Medallion for her work as a public historian in 2005. “For the most part, the interpersonal communications and the ability to work with professors right off the bat was something that definitely prepared me to work in a professional environment,” said Francoeur.

Francoeur credits Professor Donna Decker (college writing) with helping her find her voice. She says that she never thought she was a good writer. A high school English teacher told her not to do any job that involved writing. In college writing “they said, we’ll teach you where to put the commas but your ideas are wonderful.” That affirmation set the stage for a successful graduate school experience and a career that includes researching, writing and presenting professional papers on topics such as: “Halls of Fame: Where History and Fame Collide,” panel discussion at American Association of Museums Conference, Denver, Colo., April 2008, and “Ethnic Communities and Historic Preservation,” panel presentation at Rhode Island State Preservation Conference, Providence, R.I., April 2008.

“It (Franklin Pierce) is a place where the community really supports you and when you contribute to it, it supports you more,” Francoeur says. “I feel like I am coming to visit family when I come back here. I am truly blessed. “

Visit the American Studies program page for more information about the Franklin Pierce difference.

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