The Louis Armstrong House Museum is delighted to introduce you to our second cohort of Fellows: Aiyonna Aviles and Robert Wright! Below they will tell you a bit about themselves, their goals, and the experiences that led them to this fellowship. Stay tuned here for more about their time at LAHM
Throughout life we are faced with opportunities and obstacles; many of which determine our future. It is our responsibility to take advantage of those opportunities and to persevere through the continuous obstacles in order to achieve our goals. For me, making the decision to move to New York City to become a Fellow at the Louis Armstrong House Museum was an opportunity that I could not pass up. Granted, a decision of this magnitude was not easily made but well worth the risk. I believe that French Cellist Yo-Yo Ma expresses this best by stating that “sometimes life is about risking everything for a dream no one can see but you.”
As a recent graduate of Norfolk State University, my dream is to become a Professor of African American and Latin American History. During my final semester of undergrad, this fellowship opportunity was presented at a time where I was unsure of my next endeavor. I had taken great risks throughout my educational career and needed to continue on the path that I was passionate about. Prior to being offered this position, I had participated in field research with Plantation House Museums in Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia. I was immensely interested in the Louis Armstrong House Museum because it allows me to gain knowledge about the administrative side of museums, as well as expand my knowledge on the narrative of African Americans.
My new journey began with an introduction to the Louis Armstrong House Museum’s staff and organization. After several correspondences with Adriana Filstrup and Sarah Rose, it was amazing to meet them and receive such a warm welcome. Admittedly I was apprehensive during my first week; moving to a new city and meeting all of these new people. I was awestruck as I became immersed into the world of Louis Armstrong and uncovered how his presence not only changed jazz, but impacted the world.
By Aiyonna Aviles
My name is Robert Wright, and it brings me great pleasure to serve as one of the museum fellows for the 2018-2019 Louis Armstrong House Museum Fellowship. A native of Fort Lauderdale, FL by way of Daytona Beach, I attended Bethune Cookman University where I studied Elementary Education with an emphasis in Public Administration. Attending an HBCU was an experience that I am most grateful of enrichment opportunities, such as the Louis Armstrong House Museum Fellowship.
Prior to attending Bethune Cookman University, I had the pleasure of being exposed to the musicianship of Louis Armstrong and the world-renowned music program at Bethune Cookman University. My high school band director, Kervens Jackson, was responsible for this. Mr. Jackson instilled in me the motto “Hard work and dedication will take you to the next level!” This undoubtedly contributed to my life endeavors and motivated me to work hard both academically and musically. Although I play alto saxophone, and Mr. Jackson plays trombone, Mr. Jackson exposed me to jazz through the musicianship of Louis Armstrong at a young age. Doing so, Mr. Jackson embedded a passion for music and prepared me to audition for a music scholarship to be a part of the Bethune Cookman University music department—yes, that band with their own Netflix series out at the moment. J I was privileged to be given a musical scholarship that afforded me the opportunity to receive a collegiate education.
Upon arrival to Bethune Cookman University, one of my professors recommended me to work in the historic house of the founder of our institution: civil rights activist, educator, and trail-blazer, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. The Foundation House served as the headquarters for the institution until 1955 following the passing of Dr. Bethune and has been operating as a house museum since. While at the Foundation House, I served as an Education Intern. In this position I was tasked with giving house tours, coordinating group tours, planning and facilitating educational programs, and museum functions. This experience opened my eyes to education beyond the classroom and implanted in me an interest for house museums. So when the “Call for Applications” flyer for the Louis Armstrong House Museum Fellowship Program was sent to the Foundation House, I quickly acted on it and I am extremely honored to be here!
Well feed-readers, I hope you all have gotten a since of who I am and I look forward to seeing what this fellowship has to offer. I hope you all stayed tuned as Aiyonna and I blog about our experiences.
As Louis would sign…..
Red beans and Ricely yours,