Preservation Education

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The Medallion

Earlier this year, the Texas Historical Commission welcomed two interns to Austin for nearly two months of summer school through the agency’s Preservation Scholars program.

Two college students—Calvin Blair and Halee Robinson—accepted the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission’s invitation to participate in the summer program. They spent much of the summer working with the THC on projects related to their fields of study. Both interns agreed to answer a series of questions about their interest in Texas history and plans for the future.

CALVIN BLAIR

Why did you decide to pursue this internship opportunity with the THC?

I am extremely passionate about history. I transferred to the University of Houston last fall and it afforded me lots of opportunities and resources I did not know previously existed. When one of my professors, Dr. Harwell, passed along the internship application to me, I just knew in my heart it was something I wanted to do. I always assumed academia was the only path for history majors, and I was very comfortable with that path going forward, but learning about a whole new potential career path is invigorating and extremely validating.

How have your past experiences (school, work, volunteer activities, etc.) prepared you for interning with the agency?

I don’t know that I can earnestly say I’m prepared for anything. What I know is that my life and my upbringing have given me the perspective necessary to see gifts for what they are and to appreciate them in the moment. When I take a second to realize how great my life is and the people around it, that perspective really drives me not to squander the opportunities I’ve worked for.

What factors did you consider when choosing your major?

Simple. I wanted to do something that would make me happy. I wanted to do something where I could leave my own little mark. When I realized that, there was no choice other than history.

What are you looking forward to accomplishing during your internship this summer?

I want to meet new people and learn as much as humanly possible. I don’t know what I don’t know. I look forward to meeting people and experiencing as much as I can to fill that gap.

Why is Texas an interesting place to pursue a career in a history-related field?

It’s the best place in the world—the perfect example of how the past can correlate with the future. The history of Texas is a smaller case study of the history of America. Not only does Texas have a deep and rich history, but it has a diverse population that will make for some great stories in the future.

How do you anticipate using your experience at the THC in the future?

Preservation is a career I never considered. I hope that my experience at the THC can give me a greater understanding of what goes into it, as well as introduce me into avenues where I can make it a career.

How do you like to spend your free time?

During the school year, I work 40–50 hours a week, and these last two semesters I’ve been taking 17 hours at the University of Houston. When I do have free time, you can usually catch me watching sports. I’m a Houston Dynamo season ticket holder with my girlfriend of three years and it’s a great way to unwind after a busy week.

 

HALEE ROBINSON

Why did you decide to pursue this internship opportunity with the THC?

The THC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion really resonated with me, so I decided to apply. Throughout my experiences as a history major, I have come to value diversity and inclusion in my approach to history. So, when I found that the THC’s values were very similar to mine, I was ecstatic.

How have your past experiences (school, work, volunteer activities, etc.) prepared you for interning with the agency?

Over the past year, I have done historical research on 19th century black women in the South. This research has made me passionate about uncovering and sharing the diverse history of the United States. Because of my passion, I’m dedicated, self-motivated, and hard-working. I’m excited about applying these qualities to my work with the THC.

What factors did you consider when choosing your major?

The professors at my school were big factors in deciding on my majors. My major and thesis advisor, Dr. Brandon Byrd, has become an inspiring and helpful mentor for me. Also, it was essential for me to be passionate about my majors. Both history and political science are subjects I am incredibly passionate about. 

What are you looking forward to accomplishing during your internship this summer?

I’ve had no experience in the field of historic preservation, so I’m looking forward to gaining knowledge and experience from professionals and peers. From interacting with and learning from all these people, I hope to explore the links between historic preservation, public history, and historical research.

Why is Texas an interesting place to pursue a career in a history-related field?

Texas has always been my home (besides going to college in Tennessee). I love Texas, and I think its history is fascinating. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to connect with your home when you struggle to see yourself in its history. My current and future field of study focuses on the lives of Southern black people in the antebellum era (1820-1860). Despite Texas’ active role in slavery and the Confederacy, there has been little research published about Texas’ black people in slavery and post-emancipation. I believe that all fields of history—from historical research to preservation—are moving toward developing and constructing a more diverse, accurate, and inclusive history. So, because of this and my love for Texas, it has become an increasingly important place to pursue a career in history.

How do you anticipate using your experience at the THC in the future?

I believe that historical preservation, public history, and historical research are inextricably linked to each other. I hope to apply my experience at the THC to my future research on the histories of marginalized people. Also, I hope to advocate for the importance of organizations like the THC because of its role in diversifying Texas’ history.

How do you like to spend your free time?

When I’m able to take a break from my studies, I love spending time reading. I also enjoy going to different coffee shops!

 

The THC’s Preservation Scholars program was created to build interest in and awareness of historic preservation, specifically among students from underrepresented cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. The program is funded solely by private gifts, as are the THC Preservation Scholars Endowment and the Clay Family Trust Preservation Scholars Endowment. To donate to these important programs, please visit the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission page

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