Katie Barnard ('10) | History
Graduate student in museum
science at New York University
Katie Barnard has a deep love for stories - listening to them, telling them and interpreting them. It’s a passion that reaches back into her childhood, when she and her family read books together and talked about the importance of storytelling.
“I fell in love with stories,” she says. “I knew that’s what I wanted to be - a keeper of stories.”
That passion became the driving force that brought her to a competitive graduate program where she is learning to preserve and share narratives that make up our history.
Katie is pursuing a master’s degree in museum studies at NYU, where she has encountered an academic experience that is both broad and technologically centered.
"Graduate school is completely different," she says. “It’s a breath of fresh air, but it’s so intense. Moving to New York City was a little bit of culture shock.”
Preparation for grad school
Her undergraduate years at ACU helped prepare her for the intensity and fast pace of grad school, Katie says. And most of the credit, she believes, goes to her professors.
“I was blessed to have amazing professors,” she says. “I chose to take classes from people I admired and respected. Those people pushed me in ways I never expected to be pushed. They taught me determination and a love of the research hunt.”
Katie grew up on the ACU Hill, with both parents employed by the university. When it came time to choose a college, she realized she didn’t need to leave Abilene in order to find a place that would challenge her.
“I needed something more than just an education; I needed an experience,” she says. And that’s what she found at ACU
She became involved in the Study Abroad program, a social club, a summer language school in Guatemala and an internship with the history department. She also worked for Summit as a student coordinator and with ACU’s Digital Media Center.
“I like to work behind the scenes with faculty and professors, and I like helping students,” she says. She is also intrigued by the possibilities of technology to impact storytelling on a broader level. One of her main goals is to use her familiarity with technology to broaden the scope of museums making history accessible to as many people as possible.
“I want to help interpret [history] through technology,” she says. “I’ve got a lot of aspirations at this point.”
A defining moment
One of her favorite memories of ACU involves a trip to Oxford with the Study Abroad program her freshman year. Both her parents went, too, as visiting faculty members.
As part of a group project for Major British Writers, Katie received permission to go with a small group of students to visit Tintern Abbey in Wales. Visiting the site after studying William Wordworth’s poem featuring the abbey made the experience both fascinating and compelling.
“It was really powerful to be able to connect what we were studying to an actual experience,” she says.
That sense of wonder at experiences shared across time led her to pursue an internship through ACU’s history department involving the 306th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force.
As an intern, she worked with actual archives to make exhibition documentaries that would later be sent to the division’s official museum in England. She helped digitize existing archives in ACU's history lab and also wrote the quarterly newsletter that was sent to the division members and their families.
But for her, the highlight of the experience was being able to attend the division’s annual reunion - as the keynote speaker. "My keynote speech was a memorial to the men of the 306th Bomb Group," Katie says. "I spoke individually about each of the men represented at the reunion, either by family members or friends. I tried to have a picture and a story to connect to each veteran."
Katie is currently the Exhibition Media Intern at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which has not yet opened. She also recently learned that she was accepted as the Social Media Engagement Intern at the New York City Tenement Museum.
"Both are highly sought after opportunities for museum studies students, both in New York and across the country," she says.
Katie hopes to use her expertise in the museum field as she seeks to preserve the stories of others. For her, it’s not just an academic exercise but a juncture of learning and faith.
“I am driven by this need I’ve always had to protect the stories of others,” she says. “I believe God instilled that passion in me. The museum field is going to be my ministry - teaching others about their stories and their past, and sharing that passion with them.”
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