Josette Wren spends her fall semester walking in the shadows of U.S. history.
The senior history major from Omaha, Neb., is participating in the Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP) where she is completing an internship at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, D.C.
Wren contemplated both international and national studying experiences, ultimately deciding to pursue the CHIP program.
“I applied to several places including Smithsonian museums,” said the Omaha Mercy High School graduate, “but I received information about the Naval History and Heritage Command and that it might be a good fit for me, and they were right.”
The command is responsible for the preservation, analysis and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage.
Wren’s day begins at 6 a.m. with a commute to the historic Washington Navy Yard.
“Some days I show up at the same time as the Naval band when they’re playing the national anthem, so all the traffic stops and everybody either salutes or stands still to wait for the anthem to finish. Then I go to the library and begin my day,“said Wren.
At the NHHC, Wren’s primary responsibility is copying and cataloguing books and other writings found in the special collection or rare book rooms. While other projects keep her busy, Wren finds the most humbling and enlightening experiences are in the rare book room surrounded by code books from the Revolutionary War, Civil War relics, WWII documents, and even a book dating back to the 1500s.
The library is not the only place Wren explores while in Washington D.C. She wonders the Smithsonian museums on Saturdays and travels the region to other historic sites and national parks.
“I attended a demonstration at the Supreme Court, which was enlightening. I also went to Monticello to see where Thomas Jefferson lived and later went to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall,” she said.
“Walking in the shadow of so many historic buildings every day has an effect on you,” said Wren. “It has helped me gain insight into how archives work, and I've become more confident in my abilities. This internship has shown me how transferable the skills are for a history major.”
Wren returns to NWU at the end of the semester with a reserve of networking skills and a better understanding of national politics.
“Even if you aren't a political science major, or interning with a political institution, politics still affect your daily life,” she said.
With her graduation approaching in May, Wren hopes her CHIP experiences will jumpstart a career in history as she begins her job search and explores possible graduate programs.
Story by Danielle Anderson, student writer