Filoli-SCU Partnership Provides Student Museum Intern Opportunity
Maggie Debrovner ‘19 takes on archival research thanks to REAL Program
By Michaela Pernetti ‘19
When Maggie Debrovner ‘19 (English, History) first heard about Filoli Gardens — an early 20th-century country estate in the northern Santa Cruz mountains — through SCU Professor Naomi Andrews (history), she jumped at the opportunity to do research and work with history firsthand. The opportunity allowed Debrovner to work directly with the head curator as a summer intern. Underwritten by the College of Arts and Sciences’ REAL Program, Debrovner found herself specifically in Filoli’s archives, studying how museum collections are acquired and managed. The internship also allowed Debrovner to scrutinize how the buildings at the estate have changed over time. She describes her internship, composed primarily of digitizing archives and collections like photos and blueprints, as allowing her “to understand the historical progression of the house and gardens, and see what is required to maintain a museum and historical site.”
Like many other Broncos, the Seattle native was drawn to Santa Clara University for the small class sizes and great location. In her three years here, she credits her English and History professors with teaching her how to piece together the past and make it function in the present. “My history and English professors are some of the smartest and most interesting people I’ve met and their passion for what they do is contagious,” says Debrovner. “They’ve shown me the importance of filling in the gaps in cultural, social, and historical memory.”
Her internship helped Debrovner to gain “more respect for museum and historic sites,” and learn firsthand the “importance of maintaining and preserving history.” She says the most interesting thing about her experience is that “there are constantly documents and photographs that are found that change one’s understanding of the past.” In addition, “places like Filoli do an excellent job at creating a comprehensive version of the past.”
As a History and English double major, Debrovner has been able to apply her learning in the classroom to her work at Filoli by “applying historic research and analysis to a modern day institution.” Her classes and Filoli internship have lead Debrovner to consider exploring the topics connected to her fields of study in graduate school.
About the REAL Program
The College of Arts and Sciences developed the REAL Program to allow students to discover their interests, gain a rich understanding of a particular field, discern their career goals, and explore future employment fields. We believe financial means should not determine whether or not a student can participate in internships, research, or creative works opportunities. Committed to providing paid experiential learning opportunities for students, the REAL program provides stipends up to $5,000 for undergraduate opportunities lasting up to 10 weeks over the summer. In 2018, its first year, the REAL Program distributed $550,000 to over 125 students.
For more information about the REAL Program, please contact Daniel Iritani, Director of External Relations for the College of Arts and Sciences.