Meet the 2022 April Award and Student Scholar Recipients

The April Award recognizes an emerging professional in visitor studies who demonstrates leadership potential and great promise and contributions to the field. Student Scholarships are awarded to up to three students and/or recent graduates who have exhibited a dedication to visitor studies and hope to learn more about the field.


2022 April Award Recipient

Kenzie Freeman

Kenzie graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Public Administration. Throughout her Psychology program, she became passionate about how data can inform decisions in our life and for organizations. This led her to get her Master’s in Public Administration and pursue internships to allow her to be an Evaluator. During her Master’s, she worked with mentors to publish two peer-reviewed articles. After graduating in May 2021, she entered informal education as the Evaluation Manager at the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, TN. Kenzie is excited to connect with professionals in the field and to learn how to effectively create spaces for reflective practice that welcome all individuals. 


2022 Student Scholar Recipients

Ashley Kempken

Ashley Kempken was selected as one of the 2022 scholarship recipients for the annual VSA Conference. She is currently a graduate student in the Heritage and Museum Sciences program at Texas Tech University. Her thesis research focuses on the comparison between museum professionals’ expectations and what visitors take away from public exhibit spaces in natural history museums. She has a background in hands-on collections work, namely with animal specimens at every stage in the preparatory process. She also has public outreach experience regarding animal biology and ecology with a variety of demographic cohorts. Ashley looks forward to using what she learns at this conference to complete her thesis research and provide museum professionals with the appropriate data to maximize the impact of their public exhibit spaces.  


Alannah Ray

Alannah is currently pursuing an M.S. in Anthropology and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Visitors are the heart of museums so she hopes to enter her career with a visitor-centric approach to expand access, equity, and inclusion in museum spaces and beyond. She is excited to connect with others in the field at the conference to continue expanding her knowledge and skill sets in visitor studies. 


Xena Wang

Xena (pronounced like Zenna) Wang is humbled to have been selected as a 2022 VSA Student Scholar and is enthusiastic about meeting her favorite visitor studies experts in-person at Omaha. She received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College in 2019 in Classical Studies and Studio Art. While she was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, she began a museum studies master’s program at Harvard University Extension School, set to graduate in May 2022. Xena currently works at the University of Pennsylvania and finds ways to incorporate research and evaluation practices to best promote a Penn education to outreach populations. On the weekends, she volunteers at the Penn Museum and remains dedicated to creating meaningful experiences for visitors.


 Interested in supporting the next generation of evaluators?
Consider making a donation to the Visitor Studies Association!