Jennifer Caballero ’87 on How Scripps Shaped Her Career and Why She’s Excited to Give Back

Jennifer Caballero ’87

By Kendra Pintor

Since graduating from Scripps College with her bachelor’s degree in American studies, Jennifer Caballero ’87 has carved an impressive path through the world of museums. Her journey from a Scripps alum to the executive director of the California Association of Museums is a testament to the enduring influence of the interdisciplinary education she received at Scripps and the values instilled during her college years.

“The interdisciplinary aspect of my American studies major was very appealing, particularly the chance to take fascinating courses in many departments and learn from faculty across multiple campuses in the Claremont Consortium,” Caballero says. “It was a great course of study for someone like me; I have always had a low tolerance for boredom.”

At Scripps, Caballero explored diverse courses across multiple campuses in the Claremont Consortium and even spent her junior year abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, which added an enriching global dimension to her education.

“My time at Scripps fostered a lifelong desire to take advantage of any and all arts and culture opportunities in the places where I have lived,” Caballero explains. “Being part of the Scripps community has definitely informed the basics of my professional values; the lessons from my Scripps education have provided the ethical and aesthetic touchstones for me over and over when things get complicated or uncertain at work.”

Caballero’s multidisciplinary education also gave her the confidence to connect with people from diverse backgrounds, a skill that has proven invaluable in her collaborative work with colleagues, board members, and volunteers.

“One of my experiences at Scripps was working the telephones, contacting alums during ‘Phone-a-thon,’ now referred to as Student Campaigns,” Caballero reminisces. “The time I spent doing that work cemented my commitment to making an annual donation to Scripps.”

Every year, even when she was still paying off student loans or making a “very modest salary” early in her career at nonprofit organizations, whenever Caballero received the call from Scripps, she resolved to make at least a small increase in the annual amount of her donation.

“I probably missed a few years, but I have been pleased with the knowledge that my dollars—even during those extra lean years financially—were working to preserve and enhance the unique and special qualities of a Scripps education,” Caballero says, reflecting on her dedication to giving back to her alma mater.

Caballero is not only a monetary donor to Scripps, but also generous with her time. Returning to campus to share her professional journey during a Scripps Presents @Noon Lunchtime event, Caballero shared that it was a meaningful experience, allowing her to reflect on her career path and the evolving museum landscape with her former colleague Erin M. Curtis, who now leads the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery.

“When I was a student, those first-person alum testimonials seemed more powerful and realistic to me as I considered my options,” Caballero says. “Being on the other side of graduation from Scripps, I hope I can offer perspectives that are practical and maybe also inspirational for current students.”

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