Meet the Scholars Helping to Preserve Texas History (Summer 2022)

Past Matters Summer 2022; posted on 08/01/2022

Cultivating Diverse Young Voices in Preservation

By Anjali Kaul Zutshi, FTHC Executive Director

The Preservation Scholars Program places college students in paid summer internships with the Texas Historical Commission. This donor-funded program aims to increase the diversity of voices in the Texas historical narrative by placing students from underrepresented cultural and ethnic backgrounds in 10-week long summer internship positions at the Texas Historical Commission. The goal of the program is to ensure that the varied and complex stories of Texas history can be shared by professionals who not only reflect the diverse population of the past whose stories they represent, but also the diverse population of the state today that they share the stories with.

We are very grateful to our supporters of this program – John L. Nau, III, Nicola Contreras, Robert Oliver, Sally Anne Schmidt, and the Fondren Fund for Texas of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for their support of this program. Thanks to generous support from these donors, the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission was able to offer seven positions in 2022.

Each student spends ten weeks working on a preservation project under the supervision of THC staff. We are thrilled to introduce you to the Preservation Scholars Class of 2022, and their contributions to historic preservation!

Andrea De León: Andrea De León is a Senior Anthropology student at Texas A&M with a minor in museum studies. She has always found anthropology and all of its branches interesting and has been taking every opportunity she can to explore the field. In her internship as a Preservation Scholar, she is working with the THC’s Archeology Division on work ranging from re-inventory of the THC’s collections to artifact analysis.  Andrea’s career goal is to be a curator at a museum that shares the stories of underrepresented groups.

Daniele Dixon, 2022 Larry Oaks Preservation Scholar: Daniele Rose Dixon is a recent college graduate, earning her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Born and raised in the Bay Area, home to some of the most renowned instances of art activism and social justice organizing, Daniele has always had a passion for truth-seeking. This summer, she is working with supervisor Leslie Wolfenden on the African American Travel Guide Survey. Her focus is centered on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in Texas. Daniele hopes to bring awareness to the importance of Black education and the critical legacy of African Americans as prominent innovators, change-makers, and civil rights leaders. Daniele fills the 2022 Larry Oaks Preservation Scholar position, created in honor of former THC Executive Director and Friends of the THC Trustee Lawrence Oaks.

Kaitlyn Falke, 2022 Larry Oaks Preservation Scholar: Kaitlyn Falke is preparing to finish her last two semesters at Trinity University, studying Sociology and Education. During her internship Kaitlyn is working on two projects with the THC. She is interning with the San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site developing programming aimed at homeschool audiences that focuses on creating all-age educational experiences for family groups. She is also working with the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission as a fundraising intern. Kaitlyn is thrilled to exercise her passion for education and learn more about nonprofit management while working on these projects this summer. Kaitlyn also fills the 2022 Larry Oaks Preservation Scholar position, created in honor of former THC Executive Director and Friends of the THC Trustee Lawrence Oaks.

Deborah Hill: Deborah Hill is a third-year journalism student at the University of Texas in Austin. Throughout her internship, Deborah will be working with the Community Heritage Development Division to create a digital story mapping platform that highlights the histories of Texas Treasures Business Award recipients. This award is given to businesses in Texas that have withstood the test of time and now hold a historic and cultural stake in their community. Past recipients of the award include Texas icons like H.E.B. and Whataburger.

Kalyse Houston, 2022 Matthew and Larutha Clay Preservation Scholar: Kalyse Houston is a senior history major and art minor at the illustrious Prairie View A&M University. She has worked for the history department there and has had the opportunity to conduct research, attend and present at symposiums, and even travel within this student researcher position. Her work and passions align here in her abundance of research on various topics related to public history and the amplification of untold stories. Kalyse Houston serves as this year’s Matthew and Larutha Clay Preservation Scholar and is working with the Historic Sites Division and Communications Division. The majority of her work will be held within the Historic Sites Division at San Felipe de Austin State Historic Site assisting in exhibit development.  She will be serving as the exhibit-support on projects at San Felipe de Austin including research and planning for storylines, object preparation, such as labels, context, etc., archival support, and general research and support for upcoming temporary gallery installations and film projects. Then she will also be reflecting on her experiences as part of the Communications Division.

Nati Roman: Nati Roman is a recent graduate of San Antonio College where she served as president of Somos La Gente, the Mexican American Studies student organization, and helped to lead the successful campaign to change the SAC Ranger mascot. She will be transferring to UT Austin in the fall where she will be pursuing a major in Mexican American & Latina/o Studies. She is passionate about finding accessible and engaging ways to tell underrepresented stories through creative writing and digital media. Her poetry has been published in the UT Press anthology, ‘Reverberations of Racial Violence: Critical Reflections on the History of the Border’ and she is the digital editor for the public history group Refusing to Forget.

This summer, Nati is working in the Community Heritage Development Division to research taquerias and tortillerias that qualify for nomination through the Texas Treasure Business Awards. She is conducting interviews and taking photographs of eligible businesses in order to capture their stories and share them with the public in an online platform.

Leslie Torres, 2022 Jose Contreras II Preservation Scholar: Leslie Torres is a first-year student in the MA to PhD history program at Texas A&M University. This summer, Leslie is interning with the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site to help create a visual, self-guided tour of the historic site. This project will allow visitors to visualize exactly where the Texian Rebels and the Mexican Army were located during the Battle of Coleto Creek in the Texas Revolution. She hopes she can learn more about public history through this internship, because she is interested in the working relationship between academic and public history. Leslie fills the 2022 Jose Contreras II Preservation Scholar position, named in memory and honor of the late Jose Contreras II, a beloved and much missed staff member of the Commission.

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