O’Fallon Native Samantha Hennenfent Completes Historic Preservation Internship in the United Kingdom
Department of History
Southeast Missouri State University student Samantha Hennenfent of O’Fallon, Mo., recently interned through Bishop Grosseteste University College, a private college located in Lincoln, United Kingdom, an old Roman town famous for its Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle, built by William the Conqueror.
The college placed her in a local museum, The Collection, where she spent most of her time working with children in school groups. She also helped with educational programming, school tours and setting up exhibits as well as went on curator-led tours of many famous English homes and museums, including the Burghley House, where “Pride and Prejudice” was filmed, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Hadrian’s Wall, and The British Museum.
“The internship helped me realize that I really enjoy heritage/museum education. It also helped me see how my profession is different in a different country,” she says.
In her free time in the United Kingdom, Samantha visited York and London and went to the beach. She and people she met on her trip explored Lincoln and traveled together to various parts of England.
Currently, Samantha is interning at the Felix Valle State Historic Site in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., where she is working on a series of projects for the site’s future use.
At Southeast, Samantha is double-majoring in history and historic preservation. For the last three years, she has worked at the University’s Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum at the River Campus.
“There, I have gained basic work experience and more knowledge about my field,” she says. “I have always enjoyed learning about history, and I find the idea of saving it very important. What is most exciting is that in preservation you can be surrounded by history and work with what you love.”
Since she began at Southeast, Samantha has been involved with the Historic Preservation Association, a student organization which brings together students and faculty and community leaders, encourages the spirit of regional preservation of historic sites, artifacts and cultures, and fosters involvement with preservation activities and other organizations while providing resources for higher education and job opportunities. Her junior year, Samantha was vice president of the organization. Also on campus, Samantha performed in the University’s Color Guard with the Golden Eagles Marching Band for two years.
“Both of those experiences have helped me learn leadership skills and get more experience in working with a group of people closely,” she says.
Samantha is also in the historic preservation honor society, Sigma Pi Kappa, and the history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta.
“I think the historic preservation program has really prepared me for my future,” she says. “In the classroom, all of the professors really care about you and will do anything to help you. They are really willing to do whatever it takes to help you reach a goal. The program itself is made to give us a broad education in preservation so that we can choose a career that fits our interests and so that we can work in many different areas within the field.”
After graduation, Samantha says she plans to either attend graduate school in Pennsylvania or work in a museum or at a historic site. She says one of her favorite moments from Southeast was when she got the chance to enter the dome of Academic Hall and sign her name alongside several generations of University students and alumni.
Samantha encourages future students, “Try to make a lot of friends and learn to not overwhelm yourselves with work. Take it one day at a time and try new things every day.”