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Senior Madelyn Walker Spending Summer as Intern at Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

June 12, 2013


Madelyn A. Walker, a Millsaps senior, is spending her summer as an intern at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Madelyn Walker at the Smithsonian Institution's
National Museum of the American Indian
Photo by Maria Renteria

"I am half Native American and belong to the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina," she said. "This is an opportunity for me to represent my people and learn a lot of good things to bring back to my tribe."

Walker, who is from Lake Cornelius, N.C., is working in the development office of the museum, assisting in the creation of comprehensive solicitation plans for exhibitions, festivals, educational programs, and endowments. She is also learning about the museum's outreach initiatives to native communities across the Americas and about special projects.

Opened in 2004 on the last remaining land on the National Mall, the National Museum of the American Indian is the newest of 19 museums and nine research centers that make up the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex and research organization. Walker is among 17 interns who are stationed among the museum's offices in Washington, New York, and Maryland.

A double major in business administration and economics who is being hosted at George Washington University, Walker hopes to make connections that will be useful to her tribe.

"My tribe is currently trying to gain federal recognition, and I want to help prove that we deserve it," she said. "What better way to learn how than from my experience at the museum? Education is the key for my people and our future, and I want to one day help lay out how to economically get us there."

After graduation, Walker hopes to work in economic development within the Lumbee tribe perhaps in business consulting, grant writing, or with an educational program of the tribe.

Walker applied for the internship by completing a form online, using skills from the career development class taught by Tonya Nations, director of the Millsaps Career Center. "She said my class helped her with her application materials and interview," Nations said.

The latest statistics available show that 75 percent of the spring 2012 seniors responding to the National Survey of Student Engagement stated they had participated in a practicum, internship, field experience, co-op experience, or clinical assignment.  "Experiential learning is very much part of the fabric of the College," Nations said.

Walker's love for lacrosse led her to Mllsaps. "I would not have heard of Millsaps if it wasn't for Tracy Cepnio, the Millsaps women's lacrosse coach. I knew I wanted to stay in the South and I wanted to play lacrosse, and Millsaps was one of the few southern schools who recruited me," she said.

When she learned that Millsaps not only offered a liberal arts focus but a strong business school, she decided to make her first visit to Mississippi and tour the campus.

"When I got to campus I just felt at home," she said. "When I sat in on a class the professor looked around and said, 'Oh we will wait for Johnny to get here before we get started,' and I thought that was the coolest thing. The professors knew their students, and I just felt like Millsaps was a place where I could get a hands-on education. I knew going so far away from what I have always known meant I needed to find a home away from home, and luckily that is exactly what Millsaps has become for me."