Hello! My name is Michaela Fehn, and I’m a first year graduate student at American University. Born and raised in California, I eventually found myself in Texas pursuing an undergraduate degree in history from Baylor University. It was here that I realized there was an intersection between my two passions of history and people: public history. Now I reside in Washington, DC where I currently study public history in a program that aligns with my passion for making history accessible to everyone.
I was raised by teachers. My dad teaches high school history, and my mom teaches high school English, though for many years she taught middle school. Education and the subjects my parents teach were always conversations that pervaded moments around the dinner table. I learned quickly to appreciate history, though I noticed that so many of my peers in school did not hold the same appreciation. So, I strengthened my resolve to enter education like my parents, determined to make the very history I loved come alive for others, much like my history teachers and parents had done for me.
It wasn’t until my senior year of undergrad that I realized I wanted to be an educator, but I wanted to have a different avenue – one that included not just children, but adults who felt history was difficult, just names, dates, and places. I have always wanted those I come in contact with to feel a connection to the past and realize that history is not abstract. So after several discussions with professors, I found public history.
My goal as a graduate student in this program is to find new and innovative ways to connect people to the past. To engage others who haven’t formally studied history in a greater conversation. Because the study of history is richer, brighter, and more vibrant when a cacophony of voices is heard. When a colorful mural of different perspectives and stories is painted. I want to make the very history I have loved forever come alive for those who are just beginning to learn history, as well as those who struggled to love history when they were in school. Equipping myself with experience, theory, and practical ways of doing public history, I look forward to finishing this graduate degree with the hopes of making a difference for others, specifically working in museum education.
As for this class, I have always been fascinated with the dissemination of history through digital media. Living in a society that is inundated with technology everywhere one looks, it becomes a fascinating question to pose – how does the production of historical knowledge translate to a platform where everyone can enjoy it? This question is a question I’m passionate about. Technology is an equalizer, a tool that allows everyone to engage with a museum regardless of where they call home or any other identities that might have barred them from experiencing that museum in the past. So I look forward to building my tool belt, adding new ideas and practices that will help me connect with others as I continue on this journey of practicing public history.