February 09, 2017
Amy Bischof still vividly remembers the first time she walked into a museum as a child.
"Walking into the National Museum of Natural History and seeing the big elephant," Bischof said. "It was just breathtaking."
The experience kicked off a lifelong love of history that led Bischof to The Hershey Story, a museum that takes visitors through the life of chocolate titan Milton S. Hershey. She serves as the museum's director.
"Hershey is a fun topic," she said. "People come here to have a fun time."
As a history major, Bischof '95 worked for since-retired Professor of History Don Housley. She remembers him giving her a poster that listed the types of jobs available to history majors.
"Museum curator was one of the jobs," Bischof remembered. "I thought that would be amazing."
As Housley's assistant for his research into the history of Susquehanna University, Bischof spent a lot of time whizzing through microfiche looking for old newspaper articles and in musty courthouse archives searching for land agreements.
"He was an amazing mentor to me," Bischof said. "He was very serious and expected a lot out of his students."
Bischof also interned at the National Museum of American History, a position she secured through Susquehanna's involvement with the Lutheran College Washington Semester. Through her internship, she had the opportunity to observe a White House press conference with then-President Bill Clinton, and she toured the FBI building, the Pentagon and the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
"Leaving the comfort of Susquehanna was the best thing that I did," Bischof said. "Challenging myself to be in a new place was really helpful to me."
After two years at the State Museum of Pennsylvania—a job Housley helped her to find—and earning her master's degree in American studies from the Pennsylvania State University, Bischof moved to Hershey in 1997, where she has stayed.
"People have worked here for a long time, which I think speaks to the atmosphere," she said. "And the story of Milton Hershey is an amazing one."
Bischof returned to Susquehanna in February for Break Through, a professional development event for students that connects them with alumni who help with career advice, internships and even jobs after graduation.