Through Smithsonian Internship, Stevenson Student Completes In-Depth Work with People, Artifacts from 9/11 Attacks

June 9, 2015 7 AM

Stevenson University Public History major Alexandra Jeffries ’15 has always harbored a strong passion for history and the people, places, and stories that comprise our past. For example, she remembers being glued to the television watching the tragic Sept. 11 attacks unfold. However, after securing an internship with the Smithsonian, Jeffries was afforded the opportunity to complete hands-on work to help preserve the history that encompasses that fateful day.

While interning in The National Museum of American History’s Armed Forces Division for the past several months, Jeffries’ range of assignments included working directly with recovered materials from the World Trade Center attacks and conducting interviews with responders. In May, the Smithsonian published a blog entry written by Jeffries that detailed the story of a Salvation Army director in Kansas City who helped provide disaster relief in New York after the attacks.

“I’ve learned so many things from the stories of the men and women who perished on that day and the heroes who did save lives and the many who tried to save them,” Jeffries said. “It was an incredible honor to preserve their legacies so future generations can learn of the tragedy and the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Although working firsthand with objects recovered from the attacks is an experience she wouldn’t trade for anything, Jeffries says that reflecting on her work can often be bittersweet.

“Having the opportunity to hold items from the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Flight 93 were amazing, but working with this collection is an especially emotional task,” she said. “I would come home and ask ‘why?’ How did items like computer hard drives, blockbuster cards, fuselage parts, money, and seatbelts from the planes survive, but people did not?”

Jeffries—who is on track to graduate in December—is well aware that her work with the Smithsonian will be an asset in the eyes of prospective employers when she embarks on her career journey in just a few months.

“This experience provided great lessons and gave me the chance to apply knowledge in the field,” Jeffries said. “The Smithsonian will provide me with an excellent reference going forward and I believe this will be instrumental in my career post-graduation.”

Stevenson University, known for its distinctive career focus, is the third-largest independent university in Maryland with more than 4,400 students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and adult undergraduate programs at locations in Stevenson and Owings Mills.