Hometown: Upper Sandusky, Ohio
Employer: USS Missouri Memorial Association
Title: Encampment Program Director
Employer Location: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
What do you do at the USS Missouri Memorial Association?
The USS Missouri Memorial is a museum ship located in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and we are dedicated to preserving the Battleship Missouri and sharing her story and place in history.
I am primarily responsible for the Overnight Encampment Program, one of our flagship education programs. I also oversee our Skype Education Program, where we host video chats and virtual field trips with students from all over the world. I work with thousands of students every year on the ship in a lot of different ways.
I also handle a lot of projects within the Education Department and throughout the organization. This past February, I organized an event to celebrate the ships 70th anniversary and our association’s 15th anniversary. We welcomed 3,000 visitors to our site that day and the success of this year’s event has cemented it as an annual tradition for our organization.
I also recently worked on a project that created a mobile exhibit that will travel to different public libraries around the island and help increase our organization’s presence. I worked with local high school students to redesign an exhibit originally established by our curator to make it mobile and more relevant to the audience in their community. I am in a unique position here at the UMMA because I have a direct impact on a lot of projects that affect our strategic goals as an organization.
What has it been like to live and work in Hawaii?
Hawaii is a very interesting place to live and work for a lot of reasons. I moved here because my wife is an Army Nurse and is stationed at Tripler Army Medical Center. The population density is very high compared to Columbus, which means traffic can be really rough; however, the weather is amazing and there are a lot of really great outdoor activities to keep you busy. I can get away with wearing shorts every day, which is nice, and the culture here is pretty vibrant.
How did Ohio Dominican prepare you for your professional career?
ODU provided me with a lot of different opportunities to be active in the campus community as a student. I participated in a number of clubs and organizations on campus and gained a lot of event planning experience as a resident assistant and as part of the Panther Activities Council.
The experience that I gained through participation in clubs and organizations at ODU influences my day-to-day work. I am able to have an impact in my organization because I was able to learn how to have an impact in the ODU community.
Did you have an internship that prepared you for your career? How did that experience help you?
I was fortunate to have an informal arrangement where I worked with my local hometown historical society at the county museum during the summer. That experience introduced me to museum work. I did it because it is something that I simply liked doing.
What’s one unique experience at ODU that helped prepare you professionally, personally and/or spiritually?
I would have to say that my work study job as a student ambassador really helped prepare me for the field that I am in today. I also like to think back to a piece of advice that I was given by my advisor when we were discussing what I wanted to do with my life. He said to me “don’t focus on what you want to be, focus on what you want to do.” That advice made me take a more critical look at my future, and got me to where I am today.
What is your fondest memory of ODU?
My fondest memories come from my experience in working with the student activities office from the end of my junior year until I graduated. I helped plan the ODU Day festivities in 2009 and 2010, and had a lot of fun watching everyone enjoy the activities that I helped coordinate.
Looking back, what doors did your ODU education open for you professionally?
Having a degree from ODU has really helped me during my career search at different points. Potential employers know, value and appreciate the education that students receive at ODU. I rely heavily on the History of Columbus class that I took during my senior year. That class taught me a lot about the value of public history and preservation, and I was able to talk about the experience of having taken such a specialized class when I was job hunting.
What would you say to a current or prospective ODU student who aspires to work in your field?
I think my favorite piece of advice I have gotten regarding museum work is “don’t take a paid position at a museum that you wouldn’t also do for free or for fun.” I would do what I do for free because I like the work and I think it is important. The museum field is not the most lucrative, and it is really hard to get into, but it can be very rewarding for the right type of person.
I had to volunteer and do restoration work and physical labor at a local museum for months before I was able to get an interview for a serious museum job, and I was happy to do that volunteer work. The field offers some really wonderful challenges for people who wish to experience a wide variety of tasks. For me, that is what makes my career so exciting.
What sets ODU apart from other universities you could have attended?
I think the most important thing that sets ODU apart from other universities I could have attended is the opportunity to get involved and really be a big part of life on campus. There are also many wonderful professors on campus and I feel like I was able to make a personal connection with all of them. One semester, I was able to take three classes that were all taught by one of my favorite professors, and one taught by his wife. I’ve always thought that was something very special.
Why did you choose ODU?
There were a lot of things that appealed to me about ODU, and I think it all came down to my campus tour. I first visited ODU in December, when campus was all lit up with lights for the holidays, and that had a big impact on me. I also thought Columbus was a really great city. I knew it is where I wanted to be.
How proud are you to be an ODU Alumnus?
I am very proud to be an ODU Alum. It hit me hard this year when the football team played a game that was televised nationally and I was able to watch it on my computer here in Hawaii. I would have loved to have been there, but it was really great to see how far things have come. I get to encounter people from all over the world at work, and it’s really great to occasionally run into someone who has heard of ODU. I could talk about my time at ODU all day!