For the Love of History

March 14, 2017

An internship helped one CSUN student find her future.

Lisa Ramirez“I thought that as a history major my only option was to be a teacher,” Lisa Ramirez says. 

That was before coming to California State University, Northridge. Now a senior, Lisa is still passionate about history, but she’s discovered a whole realm of new career possibilities through her internship.

Lisa’s love of history developed early on, and she remembers spending long hours in the Greek mythology section at a local bookstore on family visits. She grew up just a few blocks from CSUN (she learned how to ride a bike on campus), so when it came time for college, becoming a Matador was a natural choice. 

“My aunt graduated from CSUN, and my parents always talked about me coming here,” Lisa says.

Lisa was on the path toward a teaching certification when she began to realize that she just didn’t see herself in the classroom. Then, in her sophomore year, she took a student job in the Career Center assisting with the annual career fair and SUNlink

“My job at the Career Center inspired me to start exploring and see what else is out there,” Lisa says.

In a public history course, Lisa and her classmates were tasked with organizing an exhibit on Los Angeles history at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in downtown Los Angeles. Lisa’s professor noticed her hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for the project, and offered to help her find an internship. 

“By showing that she cared and wanted to help, my professor made me feel more welcome to go to her,” Lisa says.

Lisa landed an internship at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, and since starting there last summer, she has become an important part of the team. Her responsibilities have included updating materials for school group tours, researching for a cultural objects learning project, and assisting with Teaching Our World Through the Arts, a professional development program for educators.

“I got a firsthand look at what a museum educator actually does,” Lisa says. “Through my internship I realized that working at a museum allows me to combine my love of teaching and cultural history in a way I did not think possible before.”

Supervisors were so impressed with Lisa that they asked her to stay on and fill in for a staff member on leave. She accepted the offer without hesitation. 

After graduation, Lisa hopes to continue her education in a graduate program. Now that she’s discovered an interest, she’s more prepared than ever to make the past a part of her future.

“Honestly, I do not think I would have found my current path without my internship experience,” Lisa says. “I probably would have continued on to become a teacher in a traditional classroom. Though I am still considering getting my teaching credential to build my curriculum and lesson-planning skills, I know now that my goal is to be an educator at a museum and not at an actual school.”