Ashley Bisram near Lake Waban in her senior gown.

Senior Snapshot, Ashley Devi Bisram ’22: “It’s super important to just slow down”

Shannon O'Brien
May 9, 2022

At Wellesley, Ashley Devi Bisram ’22 has woven together interests that may look unrelated at first glance. 

The anthropology and environmental studies double major has worked as a student visitor assistant (SVA) at the Davis Museum since she was a first-year; this year, she was the lead SVA. One year, she was also a Dorothy Thorndike intern with the Wellesley College Botanic Gardens. Both of these experiences reflect her love of informal education—the idea that learning doesn’t have to follow a rigid curriculum—and her interest in collaborating with other people. 

As a high school student in Queens, Bisram got involved in programs and internships with various cultural institutions in New York City, including the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Those opportunities ignited her passion for museum education, which she said allows learners to drive their educational journey based on their interests. “That’s why I really wanted to work at the Davis,” she said. 

After her Thorndike internship, she eventually became a student assistant at the Botanic Gardens, learning about the plants and flowers on the job. “People think to be involved with plants you have to know the scientific stuff behind them,” she said. “I definitely did not.” For her, the experience is tied to that same concept of informal education and introducing a subject in a way that is most accessible for the learner. “This [plant] is pretty, or this plant does this cool thing…are ways that people get interested in a plant at first, and then you start to understand other things,” she said, like where it grows outside of captivity or how animals interact with it.

You’re only going to be here for a brief moment in time, so try to see what Wellesley has to offer you.

Ashley Devi Bisram ’22

Bisram notes that not everyone may feel comfortable in the museum and botanic garden spaces, depending on their prior experiences. “Museums can be such an intimidating space if you haven’t visited them growing up,” she said. In her role at the Davis Museum, she makes  sure everyone who enters feels welcomed. She and her fellow assistants at the Botanic Gardens tried to make “everything as inclusive as possible,” she said. “Because everybody comes with their own interests. Everybody has their own ideas of how they want to engage in the space.” 

As commencement gets closer and Bisram focuses on what comes next, she said she feels most fulfilled when she is part of a strong community: “I think finding ways that I can collaborate with other people, learn about other people, that’s something that I really want no matter what I end up doing—if I end up in museums, or in another botanic garden, or in a classroom setting.”

The advice she has for current and future Wellesley students is that “when the Wellesley Bubble gets overwhelming, it’s super important to just slow down.” 

“Take a walk outside, enjoy what is happening around you, outside of yourself, outside of your academics,” she said. “You’re only going to be here for a brief moment in time, so try to see what Wellesley has to offer you.”