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Emma Dionne, Marist ‘20

Majored in History with a minor in Political Science

What has your career path been to this point?

Prior to graduating from Marist in 2020, I won the James Madison Memorial Teaching Fellowship which allowed me to earn my Master's degree in History from Brandeis University. My Master's thesis was centered around Asian immigration and discrimination in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the summer of 2021, I attended a month-long Summer Institute at Georgetown University through my Fellowship, where I was able to take classes and collaborate with 65 teachers from across the nation. I am currently working at Excel Academy Public Charter School in Chelsea, MA as a seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher. While teaching middle schoolers has many challenges, I enjoy working with students and having discussions about complex topics in both history and civics.

Photo of Emma smiling, she has brown hair and blue eyes and is wearing a dark blue dress with a James Madison Scholar pin on it

Can you share an experience from your time at HRVI that stands out as meaningful?

During my time at HRVI, I had the privilege to be part of the creation and filming of a documentary about the history of rowing on the Hudson River. During this process, I was able to interview members of the Marist crew team, Athletic staff, and members of the Hudson River Valley Community. All of these interviews stand out to me, as I was able to take on the role of interviewer and have a meaningful conversation about each person's connection to the history of the river. It was special to hear these perspectives, and the project opened my eyes to the concept that working in the field of history can take many different forms. As an educator, I strive to encourage my students to find their own personal connections to history and to value all perspectives.

How has your experience at HRVI helped you advance your education and/or professional pursuits since graduating from Marist?

During my time at HRVI, I was able to gain experience and confidence with interviewing subjects in a professional setting, and presenting my research to an audience. Through being a part of a documentary that the team was working on, I had the opportunity to do research in the Marist archives, craft interview questions, and interview subjects with a camera crew. As someone who lacked confidence in presenting, the process that I went through for this project helped me to feel more comfortable doing so. These skills not only helped me through graduate school, where I defended my thesis, but also in the job interview process with numerous schools. Now as a teacher, I present daily in front of students and appreciate the experience and support that I was given while at HRVI. At HRVI, I did archival research and published an article in The Hudson River Valley Review; I also presented this work at a virtual conference in the spring of 2020. The skills I acquired in researching and writing helped immensely with my graduate school applications and courses. I know that my time at HRVI has played a major role in my acceptance into a Master's program, my historical research and writing skills, and my current teaching philosophy. I'm grateful for the experiences that I had there and for the way that I was exposed to historical research outside of a typical classroom setting. I would recommend this internship to anyone who is looking into a career in history and wants to be a part of the work currently happening in the Hudson River Valley!

As HRVI celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022, do you have any advice for future HRVI interns based on your time at HRVI and your experience in your professional field?

Although my in-person time with HRVI was cut short due to Covid-19, I would tell all future interns to take complete advantage of the resources available to them while with HRVI. Not only was the staff amazing to work with, they also have access to many community members and organizations that work on preserving history and educating the public. I remember being surprised by how many historical projects were going on right within the Hudson Valley. The work they do by delving into regional history will also expand your knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Hudson River Valley and its multi-layered past. If you're not sure what kinds of jobs exist in the history field outside of the classroom, HRVI is a really great place to get involved with. I would also say that you should set goals for yourself and (while still being flexible) discuss those goals early in your internship. Whether you're looking to gain more historical knowledge, hone your writing skills, or expand your range of options for post-graduation, HRVI can provide you with a truly valuable experience.