Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Niehaus ’14

by Dongjun Suh | 2/3/14 3:32pm

by Julietta Gervase / The Dartmouth

One summer day during high school, Elizabeth Niehaus ’14 discovered her passion for art while in a British museum, after staring at a painting for 30 minutes.

“In that moment, I realized how much meaning there is if you truly dedicate the time,” she said. “It may sound boring, but new ideas, new connections and new meanings just keep coming up to you.”

As an art history major and education minor, Niehaus said she joined Students Teaching in the Arts, or START, in her junior year to serve the community and work with students in the classroom.

The START program sends Dartmouth students into local elementary and middle schools to assist with original art projects. Niehaus, START’s senior intern, organizes the volunteers into groups, manages training sessions for the volunteers and oversees the application process.

“I just thought that educating through the arts was the perfect combination of my interests,” she said. “I jumped on the opportunity to be an intern this year to positively affect others’ experiences.”

Niehaus pursues art because she loves it, said Virginia Ratliff ’14, Niehaus’s roommate during the art history foreign study program in Rome.

“She’s also trying to complement it with everything else she does that is really different,” she said. “She’s clearly multi-talented and very intelligent.”

Niehaus said she takes pleasure in the “spark” that art can create in a student’s day. START is a venue outside of academic work that still provides students with a dynamic form of learning, she said.

Hopkins Center outreach coordinator Mary Gaetz said that Niehaus has improved the program over time by encouraging others to become better artists. She gives constructive feedback to her students in a kind but firm way, Gaetz said.

This year may mark the end of Niehaus’ time as a START intern, but her experiences with the program have shaped her career ambitions. After spending over a year working with students, Niehaus plans to continue her teaching after graduation by teaching and incorporating art into her work in the classroom.

“I know every time I’m planning a lesson, I’ll be thinking about START,” she said. “There’s more ways for kids to learn than with a worksheet. So even though I’m not going to be an art teacher but a general classroom teacher, I know the arts will be prevalent in the classroom.”

The Final Word:

Favorite food on campus: chicken noodle soup at Collis.

Favorite dance song: “Timber” by Pitbull.