Hometown: West Nyack, NY
“I was so happy to find out there are history internships through STAC. I wouldn’t have had this experience if it weren’t for Dr. Sewell.”
Chris Hernandez says he declared a history major because history helps people understand the world we live in today.
“History gives us a different way to look at things that are happening now, like policy and politics,” Chris says. “The past affects the present.”
Chris learned that firsthand when he landed an internship at the Orangetown Historical Museum. There, Chris gained proficiency in everything from collection management and archiving to exhibit installation and developing educational programming. Read more about Chris' work in the Orangetown Crier Newsletter.
He says his internship provided a nice change of pace from the daily classroom routine, and he quickly grew close to the museum staff. In fact, Chris and the staff hit it off so well during his interview, that Chris volunteered at the museum the entire summer before his internship officially began.
“The people there helped me out. They taught me a lot and helped me make contacts,” Chris says. “It was a lot of work and research, but it was a lot of fun.”
As part of his semester-long internship, Chris researched—and then photographed himself in front of—nearly 30 local landmarked homes, sites, and cemeteries, many destroyed or endangered by economic development. He posted his efforts, inspired by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “This Place Matters” campaign, to Instagram under the handle “ohmaplaces.”
His work will also be on display as part of the Orangetown Historical Museum’s exhibit on local historical preservation that opens on May 7.
“The campaign and project are all about making people aware of the important places in their communities,” Chris explains. “So many of these places are right under our noses—they’re hidden or lost or just not known. It’s sad.”
His finds include the graves of Civil War veterans, Egyptian relics, historic churches…even the former site of 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, where, in 1974, Bruce Springsteen recorded "Born to Run.” The studio has since been torn down, and the site is now home to Blauvelt Auto Spa.
After graduation, Chris says he’d like to find a job in a museum. Eventually, he says he might like to earn his master’s degree and teach.