History graduates to share their successful career journeys at Writers@Work residency

Roger Coda
Megan (Buchholz) DeJoe and Rebekah Denz

Megan (Buchholz) DeJoe (left) and Rebekah Denz.

Megan (Buchholz) DeJoe and Rebekah Denz, 2019 SUNY Fredonia graduates with B.A. degrees in History and minors in Museum Studies, will describe steps they took that placed them on paths leading to successful careers in “Living in History,” a spring Writers@Work residency.

The alumni writers-in-residence series features both well-established and emerging writers, editors and publishers in a range of professional and creative genres who meet with students and interested community members in various settings. The series brings attention to the diverse ways writing and the humanities can make a difference in the world.

Ms. Denz and Ms. DeJoe will share their experiences as best friends who went through college together and continue to support each other’s professional success. In a series of events spanning Thursday, March 30, through Saturday, April 1, DeJoe and Denz will discuss their work in public history, the importance of writing in their occupations and share their journeys and detail the role Fredonia played along the way.

“These jobs on campus gave me insight into the information professions and allowed me to see the behind-the-scenes work that happens in academic libraries and special collections.” – Rebekah Denz

As an undergraduate, Denz remembers Writers@Work events providing an opportunity to think about what she could after graduation. “Writers@Work helped me when I did not know what I was doing next, and I want to pay it forward by helping current undergraduate students who may not be sure about their next steps after Fredonia,” Denz explained.

At Fredonia, Denz was enrolled in the Honors Program and participated in several campus organizations. She was on the executive board of Alpha Lambda Delta, president of the History Club and a history tutor at the Carnahan Jackson Center for Learning and Scholarship. “These extracurricular positions taught me leadership and communication skills that I have found useful during the start of my career,” she noted.

Denz interned at the Special Collections and Archives in Reed Library and was a library student worker. “These jobs on campus gave me insight into the information professions and allowed me to see the behind-the-scenes work that happens in academic libraries and special collections,” Denz said.

An internship at the Oliver Archives at Chautauqua Institution spurred Denz’ interest in archival work. She then expanded her knowledge of archives and fell in love with that kind of work during an internship at the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park in summer 2018. She also networked with archivists in the nation’s capital.

After beginning her career as a document custodian reviewer at M&T Bank, Denz relocated to Washington, D.C., upon being hired as a records management analyst in the White House Office of Records Management. She is also currently enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science degree program at the University of Maryland.

“These experiences provided me with examples that I could share during interviews. They also helped me improve skills, build confidence in myself, and learn what I really liked doing within the field of history.” - Megan (Buchholz) DeJoe

DeJoe hasn’t been on campus since graduation, so she’s looking forward to reconnecting with professors and visiting a place “that feels like home.” She remembers being inspired by Writers@Work, and hopes to inspire others.

Numerous off-campus activities helped to prepare DeJoe for a career in museums. Participating in Civil War reenactments enabled her to network with people interested in history and learn about internship opportunities.

An internship at the Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans’ Museum led to volunteering there and gave DeJoe opportunities to practice organization and communication skills. She was tasked with arranging exhibit displays at the Chautauqua County Fair and trained and coordinated volunteers at the lighthouse. DeJoe also created a small brochure that included instructions covering emergencies, facts about the lighthouse and liability forms. She was a lighthouse tour guide and helped staff the front desk.

Through an internship with the historian of Silver Creek, DeJoe helped to create better spaces for collections and properly preserve artifacts. She participated in a countywide historical convention in Mayville and assisted with Harvest Moon tours in Fredonia.

“These experiences provided me with examples that I could share during interviews. They also helped me improve skills, build confidence in myself, and learn what I really liked doing within the field of history,” DeJoe said.

DeJoe is an educator and Floor Staff Lead for the Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium in Flint, Mich., and also works as a collections specialist in archives at Kettering University, also in Flint. She has gained experience in nonprofit and for-profit worlds, including serving as a volunteer and worker in various museums during the last six years. 

In a student workshop, Writing Public History, DeJoe and Denz will give an overview of their duties, the expectations they face in the workplace and the kinds of professional writing they engage in on a daily basis.

DeJoe will workshop examples of developing training guides for new employees and creating labels for various artifacts. Denz will present examples of processing projects that record managers/archivists may encounter and explain how to create inventories for future search requests. She will also workshop document descriptions to show how records with dense content can be described and condensed in one or two sentences.

The workshop will be held at Fenton Hall Room 127 (English Reading Room) on Thursday, March 30, at 9:30 a.m., and is open to all SUNY Fredonia students.

Other events include:

  • “Making a Life in History” is the theme of a casual conversation over desserts that’s designed for students majoring in History and Department of History faculty in the Garden at Reed Library on Thursday, March 30, from 2 to 3:20 p.m. The workshop is open to the public.
  • A talk, “Finding your Path After College,” covering friendship, careers, networks and money, will be held at the Science Center Kelly Family Auditorium (Room 105) Thursday, March 30, at 5 p.m. and is open to the public. There will be a reception afterwards.
  • At “Leadership Through the Eyes of a Young Professional,” Denz and DeJoe will each deliver 30- to 40-minute lectures and leave 10 minutes to answer questions at Williams Center Room S204 on Friday, March 31, at 11 a.m. Their presentations are open to the public.

In conjunction with residency, “Demystifying Archives: Accessibility, Availability & Invisible Labor,” an exhibit launch and tours, will be presented by Coordinator of Special Collections and Archives Amanda Shepp on Friday, March 31, from noon to 2 p.m.

Mx. Shepp will be joined by student workers in Special Collections and Archives in outlining what archives are, what’s so special about the library’s Special Collections, how local history is preserved and what takes place in the Tower of the library addition, the Carnahan Jackson Center for Learning and Scholarship. Guided tours that involve the newer projects on exhibit at the library will be held, followed by a Q/A and break for refreshments.

Following the break, guided small-group tours of Special Collections and Archives spaces, collection highlights and in-development projects led by Special Collections and Archives staff will be held. Attendees can learn about the work students do and internship opportunities.

On Saturday, April 1, Denz will serve as the main stage guest speaker at Go Big Blue Day, a morning reception held for accepted students for 2023-2024, and also join Admissions staff in meeting students.

In addition to scheduled events, DeJoe and Denz will meet with students in classes and other small-group settings throughout the residency.

This Writers@Work residency is sponsored by the Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities of the Fredonia College Foundation, Faculty Student Association and the Fredonia Alumni Association. Partners of the Writers@Work series are Alumni Affairs, School of Business, Career Development Office, Department of English, the Honors Program and Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Residency partners include the American Democracy Project, Department of Communication, History Club, Museum Studies program and Reed Library Special Collections and Archives.

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