Brigid Pettit is from Mt. Solon, Virginia and she will graduate from Virginia Tech in 2016 with a BA in Religion and Culture and a minor in Professional and Technical Writing. As part of the Material Culture and Public Humanities accelerated program, Brigid is still an undergraduate student where she is a member of the Marching Virginians and a sister of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Service Sorority. Through the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, she hopes to one-day work in a non profit that focuses on the importance of the arts in society, preferably in the coordinating or special events department.
Chris Kelly is a 2010 graduate of Virginia Tech with a B.A. in Communication and focus on Film and Media Theory. Originally from Hampton, VA, Chris grew up not far from the Jamestown and Yorktown settlements and developed a love for museums. Chris has spent the last seven years working in various positions in Hampton and in Blacksburg, and has decided to come back to Virginia Tech to pursue his M.A. in Material Culture and Public Humanities. In doing so, Chris eventually wants to pursue his Ph.D. in the ASPECT program here at Virginia Tech. His research interests include the portrayal of minorities in film, lost films, and new ways of producing film exhibits.
Danielle Lewandowski is a graduate of James Madison University’s class of 2015 with a B.A. in Art History and a Concentration in Museum Studies. Through multiple internships at JMU and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, she discovered her passion for museum education. During her time at Tech, part of the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, Danielle plans to expand her knowledge on unique ways to teach others about art and strive towards her goal of becoming an Education Director at a museum.
Devon graduated summa cum laude and “in honors” from Virginia Tech in 2014 with a BA in English and minors in Appalachian studies and horticulture. She then returned to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, where she learned weaving, chip carving, and needle felting (and much, much more). A Powell Fellowship recipient, she is interested in all aspects of the vernacular Appalachian South.
Elizabeth Wells is an accelerated student in the MCPH program from South Hill, Virginia. She will graduate in May of 2017 with her BA in History and a minor in American Studies. She is currently Historian of the History Club and a leader within the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) of VT. Through the MCPH program she hopes to one-day work within the planning, business, or educational sector of historical museums.
Emily Bianchi graduated from Beloit College in 2012 with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Museum Studies. After graduating, she worked as a registrar at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center where she worked closely with components of dismantled artist-built environments as well as artist-built environments in situ. This experience informed her interest in cultural heritage sites that reveal local, untold histories. Through her studies in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, Emily will examine the many considerations surrounding the preservation, funding, interpretation and programming necessary for these sites to retain the significance they deserve.
Hallie Rose is from Memphis, TN. She graduated from the University of Memphis in May 2015, with a Bachelor of Arts, where she double majored in Anthropology and Philosophy and minored in Spanish. At the U of M she worked extensively with the TIGUrS Garden, an urban community garden on campus. Through her work in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program at Virginia tech, Hallie hopes to narrow her broad interests in art and community engagement.
Ian I-sung O’Donnell
Ian was born and raised in Santa Clara, California and graduated from Thomas More College(Crestview Hills, Ky) in 2015 with a B.A. in History and a minor in Theater. Through directing, set design, and costume design, Ian discovered a love of cultural history and its relation to objects in an artistic context. Ian hopes to take his degree and experience from the Material Culture and Public Humanities program and work towards creative ways to bring history alive for audiences, museum-goers, and students.
James Walton (who goes by ‘Drew’), attended the small liberal arts college of Longwood University where he received his B.A. with a major in History and a minor in Anthropology. Following graduation, Drew spent several months interning at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s Archives Center where he gained a deep appreciation of the field of Public History. He has high hopes that Virginia Tech’s Material Culture and Public Humanities program will further his goals of formally entering a career in museums, archives, or any similar institutions dedicated to preserving and promoting human history.
Jeff graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2013 with a B.A. in Anthropology. After graduating he spent time as an intern at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown, Massachusetts and later served as the Development Coordinator at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature in Anchorage, Alaska. During his time in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, Jeff plans to focus on curatorship, exhibit design, and public archaeology.
Katie is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with B.A.s in History and in Classics. Her range of interests include the history and material culture relating to the women of Greece and Rome, as well as incorporating issues of diversity and inclusion into museum work. More broadly, Katie’s interests are focused on those individuals and groups forgotten by traditional scholarship.
Kelly Cooper is from Richmond, Virginia. She graduated in May 2017 summa cum laude from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in History and minors in Art History, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Classical Studies, and War and Society. Prior to her graduate career, Kelly has interned and worked at Agecroft Hall, the Department of Historic Resources, Colonial Williamsburg, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Her passion for research and understanding interdisciplinary and international approaches to the built heritage led her to study abroad in the UK and compose her honors thesis on “The Illumination of the York Minster and St. Patrick’s Cathedral: Two Preservation Approaches.” She had the great fortune to present her research at the ACC Meeting of the Minds in the spring of 2017. While in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, Kelly plans to focus on the preservation and presentation of material culture and architectural heritage.
Kendall Lucy is from Brunswick County, Virginia. She graduated in December 2015 from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in History and Classical Studies. As an undergraduate, her interests focused on the military history, gender roles, and art history of the Mediterranean, as well as a love of Latin. Through Kendall’s studies in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program she hopes to learn new and exciting ways to engage historical audiences with the past in a public setting.
Kenna is a Blacksburg native and graduated from Radford University with a B.A. in Art History and a concentration in Museum Studies in May of 2015. Returning to Blacksburg to pursue a Master’s degree in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program at Virginia Tech, she plans to follow the Public Humanities track in order to explore new and creative ways to develop education and public outreach programs for museums. As a previous intern for the Alexander Black House Museum & Cultural Center, Kenna is also interested in local history and the growth and development of historic community house museums.
Liz Howard was born in Charleston, WV, and grew up in Radford, VA. In 2011, Liz graduated from The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts and has held several positions within the food system. Liz is an accelerated student of the Material Culture and Public Humanities program and will graduate May of 2018 with a B.S. in Environmental Horticulture. Through the MCPH program, Liz hopes to grow skills that will provide guidance when working with communities focused on fostering vibrant, equitable food systems.
Mikhelle Taylor forged her B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies degree at Virginia Tech (2010) from a background that included courses in Architecture, History, Fine Art, Sociology, American Indian Studies, and Nonprofit Governance and Leadership. Her 2010 ACC Undergraduate Research Scholars Award project on the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal, led to her current research with Fundação Cultursintra, working with the documentation and restoration of the Carvalho Monteiro Library at the Library of Congress. She plans to pursue the Public Humanities track, emphasizing the preservation of cultural landscapes and ethics of tourism development.
Moriah Webster, a Fredericksburg, Virginia native, received her B.A. in Art History with a minor in French from Randolph-Macon College (Ashland, Virginia) in 2016. As an undergraduate, Moriah completed academic internships at Colonial Williamsburg’s Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. These internships ultimately led her to the topic of her senior thesis, “Fashioning an Anglo-American Identity: Clothing in Early American Portraiture” and further research which she presented at the 2015 Southeastern College Art Conference. Most recently she was a curatorial intern at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. During her time in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, Moriah plans to focus on curatorship, exhibit design, and museum management. After completing her M.A. in Material Culture and Public Humanities at Virginia Tech, Moriah hopes to pursue her Ph.D. in a related field.
Sarah Taylor is from Covington VA, although she grew up in Ecuador. She is pursuing her Bachelors in Art History while also pursing her accelerated Masters in Material Culture at Virginia Tech. Sarah is also an Ambassador for the School of Visual Arts. While in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program Sarah hopes to focus on the physical materiality of objects, as well as exhibition design, means of research, and public relations. Although Sarah plans on being a stay at home mom, she is dedicated to education and service to those around her. Her ultimate goal is to give back to her community.
Sarah Tucker is from Richmond, Virginia, and received her B.A. in History with a concentration in Public History and a minor in Art History from Longwood University in 2017. As an undergraduate, Sarah completed an academic internship at the Maymont Mansion, a historic house museum in Richmond, and completed work at the Longwood University Archives, the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, and the Longwood Institute of Archaeology. Through her work in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, Sarah plans to concentrate on exhibit design and curatorship.
Spenser D. Slough
Spenser was raised in Richmond, VA. He attended the College of William & Mary where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in History. Most recently he graduated from Virginia Tech in May 2015 with his Master’s Degree in History and a Graduate Certificate in Public History. His thesis, “Germans on the Western Waters,” centered on German artisans in southwest Virginia and their material cultural legacy. An early American historian, he specializes in the American southern backcountry before the Civil War. As a historian, he is an unequivocal advocate of interdisciplinary methods, particularly material culture, folk art, and vernacular architecture. Within the public humanities, he regularly works with southwest Virginia and east Tennessee societies in the managing, documenting, preserving and collecting of cultural heritage resources. He plans to write a thesis on ‘Great Road’ furniture makers and their cultural heritage, and afterwards plans to go into a Ph.D. program in History.