Explorer’s Heart Proves Useful for Shawna Fredrickson
No one ever said the best place to learn was in a classroom. For Wayne State senior Shawna Fredrickson, one of the best places is the Grand Canyon.
Last summer, Shawna, who is a social science education major and economics minor, completed her internship at the Bandelier National Monument in northern New Mexico. Bandelier is home to several ancestral Pueblo ruins and is a monument to the history and beauty of the area.
But this opportunity didn’t come about by pure luck. It was instead the direct result of a college field trip taken through her History and Geography of the American Southwest class in the summer of 2010.
“It was right after my freshman year. Eight students and three professors traveled from Wayne through Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, then cut back through Utah and Colorado,” Shawna said. “I saw a lot of country I hadn’t seen before and got to know the people I was with. I enjoyed that trip so much that I got an internship at Bandelier National Monument.”
After a lengthy application process, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), which works with parks and historical preservation sites in the country, matched up Shawna with the internship.
“I lived in a house at the park, and I got to see the Grand Canyon at sunrise,” Shawna said. “The whole trip was so memorable.”
While at Bandelier, Shawna became a Fire Effects Intern and gained certification as a Wildfire Firefighter.
“I went hiking in the back country every day and took data on the different types of plants to determine their fire danger and what should be done,” Shawna said. “I really loved being outside the whole summer, and I hope to work with them again someday.”
For someone who loves immersing herself in the great outdoors, Shawna has quieter plans after she completes student teaching in the spring.
“In high school, I decided I wanted to be a history teacher, but later I questioned myself,” Shawna said. “My professors have really helped me realize where my true passion is. I don’t want to be a teacher anymore; I’m going to be a research librarian.”
After she graduates in May, Shawna plans to attend Emporia State University in Kansas to pursue her master’s degree in library science.
Until then, Shawna will continue to enjoy her social sciences classes and stay involved on campus.
Shawna is the secretary of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society on campus. Shawna said Phi Alpha Theta holds history movie discussions, and last semester they brought a Mark Twain living history speaker to campus.
“Phi Alpha Theta is a nice way to get people involved with history,” Shawna said.
Shawna has been participating in the Northeast Nebraska Teacher Academy (NENTA) for two semesters, which she said has helped her to work with people and to learn more about other communities in the area. She is also the president of Pi Gamma Mu, the social science honor society.
Although Shawna doesn’t currently tutor for STRIDE, she said tutoring was one of the most beneficial experiences she’s had during her college career.
“I loved being a tutor. That’s part of being a research librarian; you get to work one-on-one with students,” Shawna said. “I was able to learn more about my field, and it was one of my favorite things. I really miss it.”
Dr. Joe Weixelman, a professor of history in his sixth year at WSC, said Shawna was “one of the best history tutors we’ve had.”
“She worked with freshmen students on their writing and helped them improve their writing,” Weixelman said. “She has a very positive and bubbly personality, is adventurous and shows a lot of academic potential.”
When she’s not scrapbooking, cooking, reading, working at the Conn Library circulation desk or listening to the Beatles, Shawna continues to travel with the Explorer’s Club, of which she is the president.
The Explorer’s Club recently took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but Shawna has also traveled with the club to the Black Hills and to St. Louis.
“It’s not just the destination, but the trip that’s so much fun,” Shawna said.
Besides the history and social sciences opportunities on campus, Weixelman said there are many fields related to these areas that might interest students.
“History is one of the few professions where people will pick up a history book,” Weixelman said. “It bridges the sciences and humanities. We think too much about writing history, but there’s also presenting history.”
According to Weixelman, public history opportunities are starting to gain more notice, including library science, museums, national parks, tourist opportunities, historic preservation, archaeology and even national historic registry work.
Students interested in those fields should follow Shawna’s lead and get outside of the classroom to explore the historic potential the country has to offer.