D.C. internship allows student to share love for history
On Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in the midst of the busy lanes of commuter traffic that cut through the heart of the capital, a sanctuary of stately green trees and bright, budding bushes known as Pershing Park is a common refuge for the everyday D.C. worker.
But for Liberty University junior Luke Dixon, Pershing Park and many other sites like it are more than what meets the eye. As a history student who is currently interning with the National Park Service (NPS), Dixon is working on projects for the park, as well as for the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre, the U.S. Navy Memorial, and other national landmarks along Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
“There’s so much history just on Pennsylvania Avenue itself,” Dixon said.
Pershing Park is an important historical monument that memorializes and honors American World War I General John J. Pershing, making it the ideal location for the ongoing World War I Centennial Commemoration. Dixon has been gathering information on America’s involvement in WWI to create programs that park rangers can refer to when they give tours and educational talks. Developing these programs, Dixon said, is his way of helping to educate others through his love of history.
“I think that learning about history can teach you a lot about yourself,” Dixon said. “By studying people throughout history and learning how they lived their lives, history can be one of the best instructors on how to live life. In that way, I see myself as somewhat of a life coach.”
Working with the NPS has given him an unprecedented level of access to work alongside rangers and officials that oversee some of the most well-known historical landmarks in the country.
“This whole internship has been a really fun and incredible opportunity for me,” Dixon said. “I especially love to meet with the park rangers and get their perspectives on my research and hear what they would like to contribute to the programs.”
Growing up in York, Pa., Dixon dreamt of working in a museum or another public institution that would allow him to share his knowledge and love for history with others.
Before his internship with the NPS, Dixon worked at the York County History Center. He also participated in New London Day with fellow history students at Liberty. The annual event celebrates the rich history of an 18th century town located about 15 minutes from campus.
Dixon’s search for an internship in Washington, D.C., began at Liberty’s Career Center, where representatives for Liberty's Washington Fellowship program reached out to the NPS and created the internship specifically designed for Dixon's interests and skillset.
“I’m very grateful for the Career Center because they did a lot of things that I couldn’t do on my own as far as making this opportunity possible,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the community he has built with other interns has been rewarding. All Washington Fellowship students live in apartment-style housing and experience living and working in the capital together.
“Even after just a couple of days of being on the hall, everyone here has developed a real bond, and I’ve made a lot of really good friends — fast,” Dixon said. “We’ll do different activities on the weekends with each other, and there’s this real sense of camaraderie.”