By Ashley Wilson-Rew
This summer, one rising star student is weaving the stories of the past into the fabric of the present and future.
From a young age, Lauren Ball, a student from Punxsutawney, has loved two things: history and writing. Now, she's bringing those two loves together in one fast-paced, highly demanding internship.
Ball entered the university with a major in public relations. Thanks to professors such as Tim Ziaukas, professor of public relations, and Dr. Richard Frederick, professor of history, she rekindled her love for history and picked up a history minor in her sophomore year.
Where have these two passions led her today? Right into the arms of the Heinz History Center in the Strip District of Pittsburgh.
The Senator John Heinz History Center, an associate of the Smithsonian Institution, is an educational institution devoted to western Pennsylvania's long and colorful history. With Ball's help, the center is “connecting people to the past to help us understand the present, and to provide guidance for the future.”
The center showcases the traditional American experience by cataloguing the story of Western Pennsylvania. Although this is traditionally done through exhibits, events, archives, and artifacts, the Heinz History Center is translating large amounts of its education to increasingly popular online media formats.
Contrary to the common stereotype, Ball's internship encompasses more than endless coffee runs for higher ups. She works with a small team in the marketing department to promote the center and its offerings both online and offline. Her responsibilities include writing blog posts for a wide audience, compiling media coverage reports, and managing the press during programs and events.
Additionally, she tracks media coverage of the History Center both off- and online, manages the editorial calendar, and works in partnership with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to educate the public and promote the center. Ball contributes to a Post-Gazette series called “Let's Learn from the Past,” in which historical topics are made relevant to today's issues.
Although her team is small, they all work passionately to spread the word about the History Center and its mission. According to Ball, this internship is perfect for her -- combining her two greatest passions and providing plenty of opportunities to promote history education and preservation.
Ball emphasizes that her opportunities at Pitt Bradford made this internship possible. The education she has received so far continues to impress her supervisors, and the accumulation of her studies has prepared her to excel in life and in her internship.
In her senior year, Ball plans to use her newfound experience to assist her peers in the communications department at Pitt-Bradford. Her real-life work experience can help other students prepare for the transition between college and working life.
After graduation, she hopes to continue working in the combined fields of communications and history.
“I really enjoy what I'm doing now. Working in the communications department at a museum is kind of my dream job!” she said.