Sara Kern '13
History| Lebanon, Pa.
GeoClub, SU Swings, Catholic Campus Ministry and History Club.
Sara Kern knows how to tell a story. Her Research Methods class asked her to do a semester-long research project. Kern holds an assistantship with the Medical Humanities Initiative housed in the history department, so she decided to use some of the MHI’s documents to fulfill the class assignment.
“I had a whole drawer of microfilm at my disposal. At first it was overwhelming, but then it became interesting.” She kept reading newspaper articles about a yellow fever outbreak in Vicksburg, Miss., during the Civil War era. That led her to the records of the National Board of Health. “I found the NBH sent an inspector general to investigate the health crisis, and although he was first seen as a reformer, he didn’t really know what he was doing.” The crisis was borne out of ignorance, and the response to it made it worse at first. “It’s interesting to think of the parallels between that and our own times.”
Last summer Kern interned at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pa., where she conducted research that will be used in the creation of new exhibits. “I reached out to the museum about the internship, even though it’s often held by students in grad school or further along in their undergraduate career. At the end of my informational interview, I was asked if there was anything I did that I thought would be relevant to the position. I simply explained my work with the Medical Humanities Initiative and the project I did for Research Methods. The woman’s first response was, ‘When can you start?’”
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