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Alumni Spotlights

Melissa Knapp

Melissa Knapp

I start most days by walking into a building filled to the brim with amazing southern decorative arts objects. As the Manager of MESDA Conferences, Travel & Symposia at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, I manage all of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts’ key in-person and virtual programs throughout the year. This spring I am gearing up to host our first conference in two years: MESDA’s biennial furniture seminar. While my work does not involve curation, collections work, or digital history, it does involve detailed event logistical work and significant relationship management. Each day looks a bit different, whether it involves nailing down speakers and caterers for upcoming events or making fundraising pitches for event sponsorships.

Although my daily activities are varied and dive in and out of museum work and nonprofit administration, I find that my time at UNCG prepared me for nearly any professional scenario.

I graduated from UNCG’s Museum Studies Masters Program in 2020. While at UNCG, I realized I had a passion for fundraising and nonprofit administration—a track a bit outside of the scope of the traditional program. Without skipping a beat, Dr. Parsons and Dr. Gatson immediately helped me identify courses and projects, sometimes outside of the department, that pertained to fundraising and could apply to my degree requirements. Their constant mentorship ensured I gained the practical skills that I use each day in my current position.

UNCG’s History Department faculty truly seek to provide mentorship and guidance throughout both the program and job search, consistently providing advice and connections. I am so grateful to have attended this program and for the incredible opportunities and hands-on learning moments the program provided.

Lacey Wilson

Lacey Wilson

I am a public historian and Historic interpreter. I came to UNCG with a Bachelor of Art from The University of Maryland Baltimore County. Over the course of my classwork and outside class experience at UNCG, I earned a Master’s in history with a concentration in Museum Studies. At UNCG, I collaborated on the permanent exhibit “Etched in Stone? Governor Charles Aycock and the Power of Commemoration,” which won two awards from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). Working on this exhibit, I, along with my classmates, researched the nuances behind the title of "Education Governor" of Charles Aycock. We also made connections to the nationwide conservations about commemoration. I had the pleasure of working for Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives as a student performing and collecting oral interviews for the 125th anniversary of the school. We interviewed over 100 staff, students, alumni professors, and former employees. I worked for University archives again from 2021 to 2022, collecting women-identifying politicians in reflection on the commemoration of the 19th amendment.

After UNCG school, I went to Savannah to give tours at the Owens-Thomas House and Slave Quarters. My tours focused on antebellum politics and the lives of the enslaved people on the property. As a historic interpreter, my interpretation philosophy was profiled in The New York Times and on NPR's 1A radio. Additionally, I am an active member of the Black Interpreters Guild, promoting black historic interpreters' work across this country. I am also an active member of the National Council of Public History, where until this year, I served on the Advocacy Committee. I recently stepped away to serve as a co-chair of the upcoming 2023 Annual Conference in Atlanta with Dr. Marla Miller at UMass Amherst and Dr. Tara White at UNC Wilmington. Since February of 2022, I have been in Albany, New York, in a new position. I am currently serving as the Public Historian of the African American History Project, researching African American history in Albany to add to their collections and become an exhibit.

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