16:03 PM

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.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and 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 President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.