I am returning to our theme for Mentoring Month – unexpected and reinvigorating mentoring experiences. I have had the privilege of having Student Assistants in ZSR Library for almost 30 years. These experiences with these students left me dumbfounded, amazed and awed by these incredible individuals. Is this mentoring from the bottom up? I’ll share some of these experiences and let you decide.

Poster of Preservation Student Assistants

Preservation Student Assistants

Ann Haywood ‘95, was one of my first student assistants. As her graduation was nearing, she told me one day, “I am going into the Peace Corps.” I said something like, really, people still go into the Peace Corps? Ann replied “I’m making a statement to my peers.” This really floored me as I realized there was something profound inside Ann, and service was her real calling. Ann went to Palau, a group of islands in the Pacific for her Peace Corps experience. She worked in a library there. Another ZSR employee, Caroline Luchsinger, and I sent her a care package while she was in Palau. Ann returned to the US, entered Duke Divinity School, and is now a chaplain at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Erin Byrd ‘23 and Emily Talamas ‘23 worked in Preservation for four years. Two of those years were Covid years. Both students pivoted from Preservation to working remotely in Archives during 2020-2021. They returned to working in Preservation during Spring 2021. Erin and Emily actually worked in Preservation, but almost entirely in isolation because I still was not back in ZSR full time. Working alone as they did, and doing a good job with minimal in-person input from me was inspiring.

Xueyi Peng- worked two years in Preservation. She graduated with a Masters in Accounting from Wake Forest in 2018, then a career in NYC as an accountant. She described to me the steps leading to her arrival at Wake Forest: 2 years at Trout Lake High School in Washington State, 2 years at Greensboro Day School and a lot of discrimination along the way. I respect the trials she overcame, especially living 6 years in the US without family. She was the first Peng family member to graduate from college!

Carolyn Jones (Frederick)- was an English Grad student when she began working in Preservation. She assisted me in all aspects of this work: making archival boxes, constructing 4-flap folders for pamphlet binders, spine replacements and hinge repair with Japanese paper. She also assisted me with the rebinding of the wonderful Cuala Press “sample book”. This was a large scrapbook, which came as part of the Dolmen Press Collection with a chronological sample of each printed item from the Cuala Press from 1906-1948. These items had been letterpress printed and hand colored for sale in Ireland by the Cuala Press which was owned and operated by Elizabeth and Lille Yeats, the sisters of the poet, William Butler Yeats. Carolyn went to Pitt Library School and focused on preservation, after which she had worked for local historical societies and the Pittsburgh symphony as an archivist and preservation specialist.

There are many more students I could mention. I continue to be impressed, amazed and instructed by our students. These students bring insight to my processes in the lab, generate ideas for improvements, and are very productive in Preservation as student assistants. For all of this, I am grateful (ly mentored).