William Frentz ’13 spends summer interning at Smithsonian museum
July 14, 2011 By Elizabeth Trollinger
Museum of American History this summer, working directly
with artifacts in the Smithsonian storage facility (above).
"This internship requires that I immerse myself fully in what I
do in order to get the most out of the experience," Frentz says.
William Frentz ’13 is the envy of his fellow Centre history majors: he is spending his summer working at America’s historical mecca.
Frentz is interning with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. His program — “Access to Opportunities” — is a competitive opportunity for students with disabilities to intern at the Smithsonian. Frentz, who has bilateral hearing loss, was awarded an internship at the museum based on his interests.
Working at a Smithsonian museum is a dream come true for Frentz.
“I was first drawn in by the history aspect of the internship, as I was looking for an experience that would go along with my major at Centre. When I visited D.C., I really enjoyed the Smithsonian museums. The American History museum is my favorite of the Smithsonian museums, and I was lucky enough to be placed there,” he says.
Frentz also credits his Centre professors for piquing his curiosity in the kinds of work he is doing at the Smithsonian.
“I became interested in the internship at the museum thanks to the very enthusiastic professors in the history department at Centre,” Frentz says. “Dr. Tubb's class on the Crusades definitely prepared me. The curriculum for the course was challenging, yet it was very enjoyable. Like his class, this internship requires that I immerse myself fully in what I do in order to get the most out of the experience.”
Every Centre student has the opportunity to have an internship like Frentz’s because of the Centre Commitment, which guarantees that all Centre students can study abroad, have an internship and graduate in four years (or else the fifth year of study is paid for by Centre).
As part of his internship, Frentz has the opportunity to work with multiple areas, allowing him to learn about several aspects of museum work.
“I split my time between two supervisors: Dr. Katherine Ott, a curator in the Medicine and Science department, and Drew Robarge, a collections manager in the same department,” Frentz says. “Dr. Ott has me doing primarily research work, searching collections for information on various subjects. Drew has me working in the storage spaces. I help him with inventory and cataloging artifacts in the museum's database as they are digitized and/or moved to a storage facility in Maryland.”
Frentz’s internship has given him learning opportunities outside of his work with Ott and Robarge as well.
“The most interesting part of my internship is the colloquiums where the museum hosts various professors and curators to discuss their recently published books,” he says. “It’s been really cool to talk with these authors, and they always have great advice for me.”
Interning at the Smithsonian over the summer has broadened Frentz’sense about the kinds of work he’d like to do after Centre.
“This experience has given me the chance to see how a world-renowned museum works behind the scenes. It really has been an eye-opening experience thus far and I am looking into museology as a possible career path,” he says.
For Frentz, the opportunity to intern at the NMAH will stay with him even after he returns to Centre in the fall.
“I'll surely treasure this experience forever,” he says.
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