The Capital Scholars Program, offered by Arizona State University's School of Politics and Global Studies, allows students to spend their summer interning at various courts, government agencies, lobbying and consulting firms, advocacy groups, media outlets, museums, think tanks, and nonprofit organizations in Washington, D.C., while earning college credit.
Renee Hernandez, an ASU Online student pursuing a major in history and a minor in religious studies, was one of the 12 students selected to participate in the 2023 Capital Scholars Program.
“My Cap Scholars experience has been eye-opening for me. I’ve found out things about myself I don’t think I would have figured out at home. I’ve been given a great opportunity to go into the field I’ve been interested in,” Hernandez said.
Through this program, Hernandez was able to spend this past summer interning at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, a research and educational arm of the museums.
“My internship was part of the visitor services department where I got to help manage 400 volunteers assisting the Folklife Festival. My first few weeks required me to help with outreach in the DMV area,” she said.
The annual Folklife Festival spans 10 days and features various musical performances, film screenings and narrative sessions at the National Mall.
“A few other things I assisted in was preparing the Pin Ceremony, which recognizes veteran volunteers. I was tasked with updating information on their volunteer years as well as presenting them with their pins during the ceremony," Hernandez said. "During the 10-day festival, visitor services would schedule and check in all volunteers and assist them with whatever issues they encountered during the festival.”
One of the most memorable parts about Hernandez’s experience with the Smithsonian was meeting Ozark experts.
“A couple days before the start of the festival, all of the participants were arriving, and the transportation department needed help with escorting them from the airport to the hotel. We would track their flights, arrive at baggage claim and help them get into the vans to the hotel. I got to meet so many participants from the Ozarks,” she said.
Hernandez said she met a banjo player, an Ozark expert, and a family from the Marshelles who grew up in the Ozark area.
"The Ozark expert, Curtis, was probably the one I learned the most from," she said. "He would present topics during the festival such as distilling, gigging and Ozark culture. That connection with him helped me understand Ozark culture and appreciate it a little more. I am grateful I got to meet him and the other participants.”
Hernandez also expressed her apprecation for the opportunity to be a part of the Capital Scholars Program. She said it helped her understand the work that goes into educating the public about cultures.
“The Folklife community is one of the most supportive historical fields I have been part of,” she said. “I’ve made many connections with everyone here, and they have helped me get a better understanding on where exactly I would like to work towards.”
More Arts, humanities and education
Community-based history project expands to include stories of East Valley veterans
Thanks to Arizona State University Assistant Professor Rafael Martinez’s community-based history project, the full picture of the…
Professor's expertise in Shakespeare leads to top faculty honor
Jonathan Bate has played many parts — scholar of Shakespeare, author, professor, actor, director, playwright, critic, poet,…
ASU shows high school students how they can stay connected to the arts
Nearly 200 high school students immersed themselves in the arts during Herberger Institute Day on Arizona State University's the…