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Working in the Smithsonian

Posted on Friday, June 22, 2007

This summer, Stephanie Eggen '08 is making the most of her opportunity to intern at the Smithsonian Institution. During the day she works to educate the public at the The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS) on Maryland Avenue and in her off hours, she explores all that Washington, D.C., has to offer.

At the institution that contains more than 142 million items in its collection, Eggen is working to improve the online library that houses more than 1,300 resources. She is also developing quizzes for children, a task that she finds particularly enjoyable, as it is an opportunity to educate the young visitors. With the wide variety of media to entertain them, Eggen believes that children are being distracted from education.

"There is so much now with the Internet and video games," she said. "The museum needs to engage them as well."

On her first day, Eggen was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by alumna and former faculty member Philippa Rappoport '85 who taught Russian at the Colleges. In addition to Rappoport, Eggen has found the staff members at the Smithsonian to be a source of inspiration.

"A lot of what makes it such a great place to intern at is the staff," she said. "They're so dedicated and passionate. They believe in the Smithsonian and what the institution is doing."

One of the staff members invited her to a lunchtime lecture at the Postal Museum that discussed 19th-century communication, and the Smithsonian also coordinates ice cream socials where she has met other interns from across the country.

The internship has also been valuable in allowing Eggen to visit several of the sights in Washington, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Postal Museum, all of which belong to the institution.

"It's my first real opportunity to spend time in D.C. I'm trying to take in everything I can."

As for the future, the English major is considering becoming a teacher but is leaving her options open and is in the process of applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to Uruguay. If selected, she believes that this opportunity in South America will allow her to consider different career paths.

"It's a jumping-off point for exploring what I want to put my expertise into," she said.

 


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