History Major Wins Summer Curatorial Research Internship
By Dr. Theresa Case
History major Helen Martinez was hesitant to apply for a summer internship even though it deeply interested her. Although she was an accomplished student in the University Honors Program, she continued to doubt her academic self-worth. Martinez remembers that she felt that her achievements were “not enough.”
However, her professors, as well as the knowledge that the internship provides an opportunity to underrepresented students in the humanities and social sciences, prodded her forward. She applied and was awarded a spot as an intern with the Summer Curatorial Research Project in Indigenous Arts at the University of Virginia. Her paid internship begins this summer and includes housing and travel expenses.
The summer internship opens up professional possibilities for Martinez and promises to help diversify the field of museum studies.
“As a first generation college student and daughter of immigrant parents, I do not always have the privilege of seeing representation in my field of study as a history major, but I believe representation and recognizing diversity and intersectionality is integral to the study of history,” she said. “I hope to use this opportunity to become part of that new representation and to bring a different perspective to my field that I would have benefited from when I was contemplating whether to study history. This program is an excellent way for me to gain on-site experience and network before I graduate this fall. Using the GRE course and graduate school preparation offered in the program, I will to apply for graduate school next year, after which I plan to obtain my Ph.D. in history and ultimately work as a historian in a museum.”
Martinez’s fascination with museum studies began when she was 7 years old on a school field trip to the Museum of Natural Sciences. That visit taught her the value of history, writing, and research.
“My family did not always have the financial means to visit museums,” she remembered, “but the impression of my first visit inspired me to continue my education in history.”
Upon hearing the good news of her award, Martinez’s family was “ecstatic,” she said, “although we were all a little scared of the idea of me leaving for two months to a place we had never been and that is not easily accessible by car. I am the first in my family to branch out this way, but my family agrees that it will be worth it.”
Drs. Theresa Case and Mari Nicholson-Preuss encouraged Martinez to apply for the internship. Case was impressed with Martinez’s presentation at the History, Humanities, & Languages Student Research Conference.
Nicholson-Preuss, director of the University Honors Program, had high praise for Martinez.
“In the four years that I have known Helen I have been truly impressed by both her exceptional academic potential and her genuine interest in all things historical. She has a boundless energy when it comes to attending panels at academic conferences and her questions are always insightful. I was very pleased to hear that Helen had been offered this opportunity and I look forward to hearing about her archival adventures when she returns.”
The History Program and the UHD Honors Program extend a hearty congratulations to Martinez and wish her the very best this summer.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.
As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 50,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.
UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.