Plans for Our Summer and Beyond

For the fourth consecutive year, the CAS Success Blog wants to share the summer and 2022-23 academic year plans for our writers. They have worked hard and worked well to share the vital success stories here in the College of Arts and Sciences. In our stories this year, we have trained our eyes on student participation and student leadership at Queens and the greater Charlotte community.

We are happy to say that our writers, Connor Lindsay, Lara Boyle, and Chase Mauerhan will be returning as writers for 2022-23. In the meantime, hear them describe their summer plans below.

Connor Lindsay

 As this year comes to a close, I look forward to my travel plans over the summer. I am going on a JBIP trip to Italy to see Florence, Rome, and Tuscany, and learn about the influences of the Renaissance on the modern world. I look forward particularly to seeing how Renaissance writing has made an impact on prose and poetry being created today. I plan on taking plenty of inspiration from the trip to incorporate into my own writing.

Next year, I will be busy working both here with the CAS Success Blog and on Signet Literary magazine. Signet has big changes planned regarding our submission schedule and online presence, so be on the look out if you are interested in being a part of the magazine! I wish you all a great summer, and I look forward to writing for you again next semester!

Connor hanging out with his closest friends.

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Lara Boyle

Hi, I’m Lara, a current junior and Creative Writing Major!

This summer I’m excited to relax with family, friends, and my dogs at home in Waxhaw, North Carolina! I will be a counselor for the Queens Creative Writing camp with Professor Sarah Creech which should be an exciting experience! I plan to read a lot and develop my portfolio as I will be applying to various MFA programs in the fall! Some books on my to-be-read list include Franny and Zooey by J.D. Sallinger, How The Word is Passed by Clint Smith, The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, and Who Wants to be A Jewish Writer? by Adam Kirsch.


For 2022-2023, I am very excited to take the Prose Capstone course with Professor Craig Renfroe and Seminar in Creative Writing with Professor Sarah Creech. I can’t wait to enjoy my senior year and look forward to seeing what the future has in store for me!

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An Inviting Calm on Campus: Crowder Greenhouse

The Crowder Greenhouse is a hidden green gem that offers a refuge for both plants and people.

As you first walk into the greenhouse on the third floor of Rogers Hall, you feel like you’ve stepped into another world where the stress of reality falls away and is replaced by the sudden stillness of the natural environment. A sense of calm fills you immediately, followed by the awe at the vast diversity of fauna housed within the glass conservatory. The hum of the radiator roars to life, and if you look closely, you’ll notice all kinds of different faces nestled among the geraniums, impatiens, ferns, and various types of shrubbery.

Haley Frey poses behind a plant in the Greenhouse Conservatory!

Haley Frey (Queens, 2001), the Greenhouse Operations Manager, said when she was a student in 1998, there used to be a greenhouse where the North Parking deck is currently located. It was torn down to build the parking deck, and she was the only biology major at the time who wasn’t pre-med, so she was already looking into botanical science. After she graduated, she worked in environmental chemistry for a few years and then came back in 2003 to work in biology. She was still in the Walker Science building, which is now Knight-Crane, and there was talk about a new building with a greenhouse for students like her who were more about “plants, not people,” Frey said. She went to NC State for her Masters of Forestry and Horticulture and came back to see the construction of the rooftop Crowder Greenhouse for Rogers Hall. One of her professors asked if she was still interested in the position (first talked about years ago), and the rest is history. For the three years while it was under construction, she worked at Discovery Place in the rainforest there.

“To come here to Queens and be able to have a full circle of the greenhouse that was here when I was a student is incredible. I hope that more people find out about it because I don’t think a lot of people are aware it exists,” Frey said. For the many students who do know, however, it offers an escape from the stress of college life, and a chance to grow their own skills working with plants.
The conservatory used to be for the botany class. Then the professor left, and there wasn’t any class interested in botany anymore, so Frey kept getting “weird stuff,” and then the arts department started to get involved with murals and sculptures made for the garden.

“It’s about experiencing this space, and people still love to learn in this space,” Frey added. “The art classes use it to draw still life. It’s also a place of peace for visitors. And when people do come, I offer them the opportunity to have me here to tell them stuff, or to have me here but not tell them anything.”

The verdancy of the Crowder Greenhouse

Izzy Harvey, an English major (Queens, 2022), has used the greenhouse as a private sanctuary to read before she began to volunteer in the space. She would come in between classes with a book and sit in the chair. Her work includes helping Frey report plants, irrigation, fertilization, or trimming dead spots. 

“It means a lot to me because it’s such a quiet and peaceful place to be, and Haley has taught me so much about taking care of plants. I love being there so much!”  Harvey said. Interns and volunteers have come from all different backgrounds and majors, united by their shared passion for the Greenhouse and plants. Anyone can utilize it as a space to find peace in nature regardless of their academic interests: all they have to do is ask Frey for details.

Ultimately, though, the mission of the Crowder Greenhouse at Queens is to provide a plant collection and environment to support faculty and student learning and research. It also serves as a classroom, a laboratory, and restorative space for the Queens community to interact with plants to gain appreciation and knowledge of the botanical world. To those nervous about reaching out, Frey said “Everyone’s welcome. No skill level necessary, and I’ll help you figure out what you want to get out of it.”  

If you’re interested in working or volunteering in the Greenhouse, or just want an anxiety-free environment to relax, contact Haley Frey or check out https://www.queens.edu/news/2017/070117-greenhouse-effect-serving-queens.html

by Lara Boyle

Royal Voices Represent Queens Through Song

The Royal Voices of Charlotte haven’t let the pandemic get in the way of having their voices heard.

Right before the pandemic hit, in February 2020, Queens was preparing to send a choir to Carnegie Hall. The most famous concert hall in the country, Carnegie Hall would provide the newly formed group a chance to represent Queens University’s music program on a national scale. But COVID-19’s arrival caused Carnegie Hall to shut down, for the first time since Pearl Harbor. In lieu of this concert, which was rescheduled to summer 2022, the Royal Voices of Charlotte have sought out other exciting opportunities to perform.

The Royal Voices of Charlotte Singing at Belk Chapel

Dr. Justin Smith, Assistant Professor of Music and director of the music program and choral activity at Queens, spoke on some of the performances the group has given in the past two years. “We’ve done things like the North Carolina ACDA conference, [and] we did a collaboration with Bach Akademie Charlotte this February,” he said, showing how Royal Voices have stayed active in demonstrating Queens’s music program across the state. During the ACDA concert the group even got to perform some original music by Dr. Zach Zubow, an Associate Professor of Music.

Dr. Smith noted that Royal Voices are an auditioned choir and intended to perform in more competitive spaces. “The plan was really to start a high-level auditioned ensemble,” he said, adding: “We have choirs where you can walk in off the street and sing with us, no audition required, and that is wonderful… but I also wanted to start a group that would be auditioned and really go out and represent Queens… at a local, national, and hopefully international level.” It’s also worth noting that Royal Voices do not just consist of Queens students, but also of community members in the area, many of which have extensive prior experience working in the musical field.

For one Queens student, Janay Armbrister, singing in the Royal Voices choir has been a revelation: “For students, you definitely get experience. You learn from community members who have been in the field a lot longer.” Aside from getting that learning experience, the venues Royal Voices have performed at are a draw as well. The upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall is much anticipated by all those involved. Of Royal Voices, Janay said, “I love the group, I love the kind of music we perform, and the opportunities we get would be hard to pass up.”

Another Royal Voices leader is Dr. Yu-Ling Chen, an Assistant Professor of Music Therapy and the group’s pianist. While Dr. Chen doesn’t perform with them at every show, she still enjoys the chance the group gives her to play and be a part of the ensemble, adding: “With the choir, it’s an interactive experience, playing with other musicians, making music together… it’s a great experience.”

Dr. Smith spoke on wanting more non-music majors to engage with Queens’ choirs. “There seems to be a conception that our ensembles are only for majors, or you need to have tons of experience,” he said, “and that’s just not the case.” Indeed, many members of Royal Voices are not music or music therapy majors. Dr. Smith added, “And aside from that, Queens has two other choir groups students can join: Queens Chamber Singers and Choral Union.” Dr. Chen, who performs with Choral Union, elaborated on this point: “Students on campus need to have a space to sing together… choral union is a great place for that… it’s low pressure, and it’s great for forming a community, too.”

As the Royal Voices of Charlotte look forward to their Carnegie Hall concert this summer, they also look forward to other engagements. The group’s activities have already succeeded in making Queens and its music department more well-known. “I live in a small town about an hour from here,” says Janay Armbrister, “there was stuff about our music performances posted up, people were talking about it, not knowing that I was a student who was a part of it.”

Justin Smith said, “I want people to know about the quality of the arts that we make here. Carnegie Hall is just the beginning.”

by Connor Lindsay

Faith In the Vaccine at Queens

How do you talk about the Covid vaccine, particularly with people in marginalized groups who may be vaccine hesitant? Last year, Queens chaplain and a dedicated group of Queens students did just that, as part of the national Faith in the Vaccine initiative. Chaplain Joey Haynes, who has been spearheading the initiative in the Queens community and Charlotte, summed up the initiative as a space in which the “goal is to reach out to marginalized communities and have conversations surrounding vaccine hesitancy. Not in a way to push people to take the vaccine but in a way to think more deeply about what community looks like and to open a dialogue. We want to support community organizations that are already doing the work by helping to provide them with resources such as funding, information, and good humans.”

Haynes gathered a group of passionate students, and together, they got to work. They put themselves in position to be outreach coordinators, to sit at soccer games and teach people about the vaccine, and to offer support to the community in whatever spaces they could. 

Right to Left, Queens students Matilde Sanchez, Rose Sall, Lucca Ferreira

Faith in The Vaccine, an initiative started by the Interfaith Youth Core based out of Chicago, and supported by the White House, attempts to bridge the gap between religion and vaccine hesitancy across the continental United States.

The initiative is also an attempt to to reach herd immunity, which is a short term stating that the majority of a population is immune to a specific disease. Haynes noted that the vaccine does not belong within the binary of vax vs. anti-vax, but instead within the confines of access to education.

He stated that a “a lot of people in the middle weren’t anti-vax, but that they were hesitant for various other reasons. For example, impaired relationships with the medical community caused marginalized groups to be more weary of receiving the vaccine.” He continued, saying that “faith communities are a large percentage of the population and are necessary to tap into to reach herd immunity.” The initiative was less focused on “convincing people to receive the vaccine, but on healing relationships between marginalized religious communities and the medical community.” 

The “Faith in the Vaccine” initiative at Queens was started in May 2020, and planned as a year-round coalition. Funding was received through the Duke Endowment and other grant money, with the initial focus being on responding to neighborhood needs. Haynes said that “there was no formal plan to start this thing. We just saw something that needed to be done and decided to just do our thing. Help out the people around us.” 

Matilde Sanchez, Queens student, said the outreach process was one of great importance. Her role was one of being a vaccine student ambassador on campus and working in outreach spaces by creating the educational and informative material for Queens Vaccine Outreach events. Through this initiative, she has been able to do community outreach through vaccines clinics such as the Pineville clinic.

Sanchez also interviewed Dr. Singh, a professor of medicine, about his religion and how it has informed his perspective on the vaccine. She said that “the most satisfying thing about outreach is seeing people want to get vaccinated/getting vaccinated. When we did the vaccine clinic on campus and found out 100 people got vaccinated, it was an amazing feeling to know that with information and resources, we can get more and more people protected.”

Queens Members stationed at the Pineville Neighborhood Place

She continued by expressing her excitement about how she was given the ability to work in outreach in a way she never had before. She said that she “had not done this type of outreach or this level before. What drove me to want to be a part of it was that it was becoming a crucial moment where we needed more people to share facts to try and fight against the misinformation. This was something we hadn’t dealt with before, and I wanted to help protect the people around me and also be on the right side of history. I learned that outreach is so important. That being there and offering services, resources, and knowledge will help create the change you want to see. That our voices are powerful. But also that listening is a key factor to being understanding. You can’t create change without listening first.” 

Rose Sall, a senior at Queens, also explained how this initiative allowed her the space to work on her outreach skills and dive further into her love for learning about other people. The experience also allowed her to discuss a subject of extreme importance. “This really was the first step to all of us looking at each other in a humane way,” was one of her closing remarks. 

Haynes summed up the program: “This work is not about recognition, or being right or wrong, but recognizing and supporting community organizations that are already doing great work. We have the funding, so we might as well pour it back into the community that it truly belongs within.” 

by Chase Mauerhan.

On The Write Track: Queens’ Creative Writing Camp! 

All writers have to start somewhere. The young wordsmiths in Queen’s Creative Writing Camp began their journey into the literary world early with the English Department. Last summer, they came to Queens for a week of fiction, poetry, and fun. The program, led by English Professor Sarah Creech, offers rising 7th to 9th graders an exciting opportunity to combine the college experience of a Creative Writing major on campus with a traditional summer camp, where they will explore the craft of storytelling both on and off the page.

Writing campers with leaders Prof. Sarah Creech and Megan Rosenthal, ’19.

Izzy Harvey, ’23, a Creative Writing and Psychology major, was a camp counselor in 2021. Her mother worked as a kindergarten teacher and also taught horseback riding, so she had previous experience with summer camps in Georgia. Harvey said she really enjoyed being able to have a bit of a leadership role outside of classes: “It was nice to take what I’d learned in the classroom in my academics and apply that to teach middle school students and get them on board with Creative Writing.”

Professor Sarah Creech, author of the novels The Whole Way Home and Season of The Dragonflies, pitched the idea after the faculty saw the need for a Creative Writing camp. The unprecedented events of 2020 meant the camp’s first year would be held virtually, making last year extra special for campers and counselors alike.

It began as a combination of university and personal interests, a way to give back to the community and inspire budding writers to share their stories in a relaxed, homework-free space, to replace the academic pressure of perfection or grades with joy, Creech said. Part of the inspiration came from her own positive experiences in childhood.

Prof. Creech said, “I started writing in elementary school, fourth grade or fifth grade, and really took off in middle school. It was a very creative period for me, and I had great teachers who encouraged Creative writing in the classroom, and I think I wanted to give back.”

While helping run the camp, Harvey and Alison Schwai, ’21, got to take trips to nearby Freedom Park, read students’ fanfictions, as well as help them perform their own work at the showcase, like plays and spoken word.

Campers with counselors Allison Schwai, ’21 and Izzy Harvey, ’23 take the stage at Freedom Park.

When asked about the creative benefits of writing outside in Freedom Park, Professor Creech said: “Freedom, it’s in the name, right? It was a beautiful day, too. We really lucked out with the weather, but I wanted the students to be inspired by nature, and not be confined by four walls, especially after being quarantined.” 

Creech added, “They probably associate that with what their school life is like, and I wanted them to walk around, to move their legs outside. But really it was just for fun, to be silly.”

Students were encouraged to explore many different mediums of work, including science fiction, fantasy, Marvel comics, and even the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. For Summer 2022, the camp will be held in McEwen, home of the English Department. To those who may be interested in signing up, Professor Creech invites them to “come give it a try! There are really kind and interesting kids that you’ll get to meet, and there’s going to be a lot of different activities. It’s a very hands-on camp.”

If you want to be a part of this year’s camp (June 20 – 24), parents can register their campers at the following link:https://www.queensacademiccamps.com/content/creative-writing-camp.

by Lara Boyle

Students Look at Migration Stories

The stories of immigrants and refugees often go unheard. But one group of students has helped make those stories heard. Last fall, students in the Migrations Queens Learning Community (QLC) learned how the understanding of and education about immigrants, refugees, and the programs designed to assist them are often scarce.

Their stories and topics of migration and forced displacement can often feel distant to many of us here in the U.S., especially if we’ve never had first-hand experience with them. A lack of knowledge persists about these topics, despite the fact that over 17,000 refugees are estimated to have been resettled in Charlotte alone over the past few decades. This knowledge gap was part of the reason the Migrations QLC was created at Queens.

When they first started the QLC in 2015, Dr. Sarah Griffith of the History department and Dr. Margaret Commins of the Political Science department made it clear that they wanted students to engage directly with these stories of immigration and displacement. “We could sit in the classroom all day… and talk about this abstract experience people go through,” says Dr. Griffith, who teaches a class in the QLC on the history of migration, “but I didn’t want an abstract thing because you don’t feel connected to it.”

Instead, students in the Migrations QLC went out into Charlotte to work with some of the city’s organizations involved in refugee and immigrant resettlement. “Students can choose the agency they want to work with,” Dr. Griffith explains. “Their work might be anything from mentoring high school boys and girls, refugee youth…to working in the International House, where they help prepare people to take the citizenship exam.”

Getting this direct experience with immigrants and the programs related to them gives students an understanding of how they work, and the ways in which the programs fall short. But more than that, it humanizes the stories these people have to tell. Another professor in the Migrations QLC, Dr. Bonnie Shishko of the English department, explores the many stories of displacement in her class.

“I wanted to look at migration through the lens of narrative,” explains Dr. Shishko. “One of the goals in that class is to expose students to personal experiences and narratives of migration, but also for students to understand the traumas that come with displacement.” Through this course, students come to understand both the importance of these stories and the traumas that can complicate them. These stories are often difficult to share, and the least we can do is listen when people want to share them.

That’s what the Migrations QLC plans to focus on moving forward. Students will still work with immigrants in the Charlotte community, now with the goal of helping get their stories heard. For Fall 2022, the QLC group will host several more classes on the topics of migration and the stories associated with displacement. If you’re looking for a learning community that offers hands-on experience with community outreach and understanding of our systems around immigration, considering signing up!

And if you’re interested in other ways to help Charlotte’s refugee and immigrant communities, check out some of the nonprofit organizations these classes have partnered with. Have a look at their websites through the links below:

ourBRIDGE: https://www.joinourbridge.org/

GenOne: https://www.genoneclt.org/our-vision

International House: https://sharecharlotte.org/nonprofit/international-house

Illustration from an article read by the Migrations QLC. The article from The New Yorker magazine is about the book Exit West, which discusses the movement of refugees. Illustration by Jun Chen.

by Connor Lindsay

Representation Through Arte Latino Now

It started at Queens as a visual arts project to promote local Latino/a/x artists. Arte Latino Now, the brainchild of Dr. Michele Shaul and Dr. Siu Challons-Lipton, now furthers and deepens the visibility of Latino/a/x artists in the Charlotte area and beyond. Dr. Shaul, director of the Center for Latino Studies and a professor of Spanish, says she remembers when “there was a point in time where you couldn’t get published if you were doing Latino/a/x scholarship.” 

*Art work by Catalina Gómez-Beuth https://www.catalinagomezbeuthart.com/

Starting as a passion project, Arte Latino Now was originally a locally based curation of art by individuals that identify as Latino/a/x aimed at creating a space to represent the multifaceted nature of Latino/a/x art. Arte Latino Now has become a 10-year-old project, and it has now evolved into a nationwide platform for Latino/a/x artists. Dr. Shaul stresses that “submissions from all over the country expanded us from just visual art to even more.” 

As submissions continued to roll in, Dr. Challons-Lipton, professor of Art History, and Dr. Shaul recognized that Arte Latino Now could become more than just a platform for visual art. It could be a space for individuals to see themselves represented. The expansion from strictly visual art to a space that explores music, literature, dance, and more has allowed the project to blossom. This expansion has allowed Arte Latino Now to achieve their goal of “highlighting the wide range of performance and production in the broader [Latino/a/x] community,” Shaul says.

She has also relied on her “passion project” in her Spanish classes here at Queens as a teaching supplement. “By showing students the diversity that exists within the Latino/a/x community,” she says, students are able to engage more deeply with the content. It also provides students a space to further their learning on their own behalf. 

Basing Arte Latino Now out of Queens has allowed the Queens community a space to blend with new cultures, ideas, and representations. It has also given students and community members a space to see themselves represented – a key mission of Arte Latino Now. 

Arte Latino Now exists on its online platform for the foreseeable future. Discover its current virtual exhibition, performances, and readings at centerforlatinostudiesquclt.dropmark.com/945645

To view the Facebook page, please find them at https://www.facebook.com/ArteLatinoNowAtQueensUniversityOfCharlotte

To learn more about the Latino studies at Queens, go to queens.edu/about/centers/center-for-latino-studies.html

by Chase Mauerhan

Students Research in the Field; Welcome to our New Writer

Over the summer, Biology majors Daxx McGee and Chloe Linton had the unique opportunity to pursue two research projects under the supervision of Dr. Kira McEntire. The Biology Department sponsored these two projects to help students to explore interests and assist on research within the department.

Daxx McGee examines a sample garter snake.

Daxx McGee, a senior Biology major, conducted research that Dr. McEntire had started. Daxx said, “Essentially, we were investigating whether color pattern (specifically red coloration) on common garter snakes could be linked to resultant toxicity they acquire through their diet of toxic newts, making it a form of aposematism, where animals signal their toxicity to would-be predators. We were able to investigate this through the geographic distribution of the snake’s color through data sourced from the citizen-science app iNaturalist.” 

He also mentioned how worthwhile the project was:  “I think the most salient thing I learned was simply the chance to have an up-close, and real-life look into how scientific inquiry occurs; seeing and doing this process first-hand was wonderful.”

Dr. McEntire stressed how important it is for students to be paid for their hard work: “I was able to give Daxx a stipend for summer research through my Noble Fellowship Grant. I think it is incredibly important students get paid for summer research because it shows them that what they are doing is valuable.” Chloe’s project was supported by a Jim Rogers Summer Institute Summer for Research and Creative work grant.

Chloe Linton, a senior Biology major, also had the opportunity to pursue a research project. She worked closely with Dr. McEntire to monitor the temperature in water tubs where water lilies grew. This project grew out of a news article she’d read detailing whether or not water lilies affected water temperature. She decided to take a deeper dive after reading up and finding little evidence to support the claim. She is currently working on her Capstone and independent research.

by Izzy Harvey

We Welcome our New Writer

We’re happy to announce that Lara Boyle, junior Creative Writing major, has joined the staff of the CAS Success Blog. Please read on to find out more about Lara.

Lara Boyle, our newest writer on the blog.

Who Am I?

Hi! I’m Lara Boyle, a junior Creative Writing major here at Queens!

How has Queens supported me in this first semester (Fall 2021) when everyone is back?

I have been introduced to new passions within the English department like Queer Theory, as well as a great community of like-minded people from different backgrounds who all share a love of literature and storytelling! My professors have each been incredibly supportive of my journey in publishing original work, which has helped to conquer imposter syndrome. Besides my creative pursuits, the Accessibility Services at Queens offers a great support system for disabled students that has really allowed me to flourish since I transferred here in my freshman year during 2020!

What am I looking forward to in 2022?

 I’m really looking forward to all of my classes this year and being back on campus with my friends! My goal for 2022 is to read more classics, so I’m excited to dive into The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov next—it’s my first foray into Russian literature!

New Year and New Writers at the CAS Success Blog

Who am I?
I’m Connor Lindsay, a Creative Writing major from Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m also minoring in Psychology. It’s a super interesting combination that lets me learn and then write about mental health, a subject often covered inaccurately in the media. I want to write stories that reduce the stigma our society has around mental health, and the classes I’ve taken here so far have helped me do just that.

How has Queens supported me in this first semester when everyone is back?
I appreciated the events Queens held this semester, like the ghost tours and holiday gatherings, because they allowed us to get together with friends and have fun in a COVID-safe environment. They provided a bit of normalcy in an otherwise very abnormal year. I also really enjoyed the classes I got to take. For me, they were the first in-person courses I took at Queens, and I enjoyed being back in the classroom.

What am I looking forward to in 2022?
I’ll be able to take a JBIP trip to Italy at the end of this upcoming semester, which I’m looking forward to. Getting to learn about art and creators from the Renaissance era will no doubt be the highlight of my year. I’m also excited to get more experience writing and publishing, both through the CAS Success blog and through the Queens Chronicle.

Connor, happy to start the Spring semester of his sophomore year.

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Hi there! I’m Chase Mauerhan (they/she), a junior here at Queens, and a double major in Creative Writing and Professional Writing and Rhetoric. Hailing from Charleston, SC, I have recently joined the team here at Queens as a transfer student.

Chase Mauerhan

I’m really excited to step back into the world of learning this semester because of the slew of incredible professors that have helped support me in my journey through higher education. The professors at Queens have truly made my adjustment to a new college and city a worthwhile one. The professors within the English department have encouraged and supported my creative endeavors while simultaneously providing a challenging and stimulating environment. 

looking forward to producing more work that I am proud of. My goal for the year is to constantly push my own creative boundaries and to dig deeper within all styles of my writing. I’m also really looking forward to (and terrified of) this summer because I am going backpacking in Alaska for 30 days!! Fingers crossed that I get some good poetry out of being in the middle of nowhere with a group of strangers.

The Payoff of Public History: The History Department Partners with the Catawba Nation

Dr. Barry Robinson, a professor in the History Department, is no stranger to participating in public history mapping projects. His background is in the history of Latin America and the Atlantic World, but he is also interested in applying geospatial analysis to the service of public history. He has previously worked on other public history mapping projects with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and with Aberystwyth University in Wales.

In the fall of 2020, Queens alumna Colette Brooke, knowing of Dr. Robinson’s interest in mapping and archival research, reached out to him about starting a partnership between the History Department and the Catawba Nation. 

The Catawba Cultural Preservation Project Logo

Students began their work on the Catawba Archaeology Student Internship Experience (CASIE) in the spring of 2021. Their work centered around digitizing archaeological records from the Catawba Reservation and Cultural Center, and, as Dr. Robinson said, “organizing them into a robust spreadsheet database, and then georeferencing that spreadsheet database and turning it into an interactive digital map so that the members of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Cultural Center staff would have access to where archaeological work has been done in the past.” The creation of this private database allowed the Catawba Nation to more efficiently determine where future work needed to be done, and the first phase of this partnership culminated in the delivery of a private mapping tool currently in use by the Catawba Tribal Historic Preservation Office.

The second phase of the partnership with the Catawba Nation is set to take place in spring of 2022. Students will be able to participate in paid internship opportunities to work with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, Tribal Archive, Cultural Center, and Community Library. Additionally, students can work on a public-facing mapping project that Robinson said will “create a work of public history that can be housed with the Catawba Cultural Center’s online presence but will help educate the general public in the Charlotte region about Catawba history and culture in the area.” Interns will also work on identifying artifacts that were found in a particular location, like pottery shards and arrowheads, and cross-referencing these materials with the developing database of sites to “identify which artifacts go with which sites in the digital record” that is being created, Robinson added.

When discussing the significance of this project, Dr. Robinson explained that it “helps acknowledge the cultural and historical context in which the university is set.”  

To facilitate the development of this public-facing map, Dr. Robinson is offering a course in the spring called HST 400: Applied Historical Geography. The internship application for CASIE is currently open, and Queens students from any discipline are encouraged to apply. 

by Emily Iknayan