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Gettysburg National Military Park
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Sarah McKenna

Liberal Arts Major(s): History, Political Science
Hometown: Collegeville, PA

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience was being surrounded by history! Each day, I would find something new in the collections or in an exhibit, ranging anywhere from a bag of bullets to programs from anniversary ceremonies of the Battle of Gettysburg. There is such a wide range of history at Gettysburg that you will always find something that excites you.

Being able to look at pieces of history - letters, uniforms, photographs, weapons, and so on - rather than learn about history in a textbook was an added benefit.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience impacted me academically by satisfying requirements for the Paterno Fellows Program and my intrinsic motivation to learn history. History is something that I have always been passionate about, so I wanted to learn as much of it as possible while at Penn State. Being able to look at pieces of history - letters, uniforms, photographs, weapons, and so on - rather than learn about history in a textbook was an added benefit.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

This experience confirmed my desire to work with collections. I learned that I love working with paper documents, and I am now looking into careers involving archives and collections management, whether that be in a museum, library, historical society, or corporation. I also want to push my career more toward the digital humanities and making history accessible to as many people as possible. Right now, I am applying to graduate school programs in Museum Studies and Library Science programs, so we'll see where I end up!

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program was instrumental for my experience. I was fortunate enough to receive additional Enrichment Funding from the Paterno Fellows Program and could discuss my experience with faculty and alumni that are associated with the Program. It has also given me an outlet to share my experiences and help other students who may be interested in public history, museum studies, archives, and other similar pathways.

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