Amanda Bartel '16

10/21/2015

Persistence pays off

Internships have taken Amanda Bartel across the U.S. and western Canada, and she has now added two to her resume from experiences in Washington, D.C., in the last year.

Last summer, Amanda earned an internship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery. While there, the senior history major spent a week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at a workshop about the International Tracing Service. ITS is a collection of documents established by the Allies after World War II—and later taken over by the Red Cross—that has allowed loved ones to look for potential Holocaust survivors.

Dr. Martina Cucchiara, assistant professor of history, recommended that Amanda apply for the workshop at the Holocaust Museum, which is among only six locations in the world with a copy of ITS. Amanda learned what was in the collection and how to access information therein.

She had also been in the nation’s capital last fall, studying for a semester at the Washington Community Scholars’ Center and serving what she says has been her most meaningful internship, at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum.

At Anacostia, she says, “I was given space to explore many aspects of museums I hadn't been able to previously, doing everything from object handling to policy writing. My supervisor there, Dr. Josh Gorman, really believed in my ability to complete projects independently, which helped me to believe in myself.”

As a first-year student, Amanda received the first Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission archival internship, which took her to Mennonite Brethren archives at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan., and Fresno (Calif.) Pacific University, and, in Canada, in Abbotsford, B.C., and Winnipeg, Manitoba. That same summer, she also served at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, just east of her hometown of Iowa City.

Her success with internships has been due, at least in part, to persistence. She urges her peers to “apply for everything” and to “get used to” not being selected. “For every internship I’ve gotten, I’ve applied for at least nine others,” adds Amanda.

She has also worked at Musselman Library with Carrie Phillips, archives and special collections librarian, but her interest in history began long before she joined the Bluffton community.

She enjoyed reading historical fiction in elementary school and became fascinated with archeology, Amanda says. Late in her high school career, she wanted to job-shadow an archeologist, but when her teacher couldn’t find one, she was persuaded to shadow a museum curator instead. At that point, she recalls, she was hooked on the field and knew that she wanted to work in museums.

Amanda credits her enthusiasm for history with helping sharpen her critical-thinking, writing and communication skills. In doing so, it has also helped shape both her worldview and ability to “put things into context,” she says.

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