News and Events

Visual communications student wins Smithsonian internship

April 15, 2016
Andrea Webb has earned the summer job of a lifetime.

The third year Medicine Hat College visual communications student is off to Washington D.C. this summer as a member of the Alberta-Smithsonian Internship Program (ASIP). Now in its 10th year, the program is an ongoing partnership between the Government of Alberta, University of Alberta, and Smithsonian Institute that offers students the opportunity to work with Smithsonian scholars around the world.

This is the first time MHC students have applied for the ASIP, which is open to degree-granting programs at Alberta post-secondary institutions. Webb was one of only 10 students selected to participate and will be working at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in the Office of Programs and Strategic Initiatives.

Quest for a creative community

With an artist for a mother, Webb grew up with a strong creative influence but didn’t decide to pursue college right out of high school.

“I was quirky growing up. I didn’t always fit in well in my hometown, but MHC was good for me,” said Webb, a native of Leader, Saskatchewan. “Coming into vis comm was like finding my people, my tribe. I was so excited to absorb everything. It was transformative for me - a whole cultural experience.”

The single mom has also found a community of support at MHC. Her 5-year-old daughter is no stranger to hanging out at the college and attending gallery openings. She’s even joined her mother for an art history lecture, where she sat quietly, raised her hand and posed the question, “What is art for?”

“It makes education more accessible,” said Webb, referencing her instructors’ understanding and willingness to help her balance her studies and personal life. “I don’t think every school would be that supportive.”

In addition to her studies, Webb works as the assistant manager of Market @ Medalta, a unique weekly event that encourages Hatters to shop local and connect with the community at the historic site. Her passion for social design means this position is the perfect fit. Webb’s role as assistant manager not only relies on her creative talent, but requires her to use the problem solving skills learned in the classroom to strengthen the Market’s role in the community.

A Smithsonian opportunity

When she saw the ad for the Smithsonian internship, she knew immediately that this opportunity was for her. Webb emailed her placement officer at the college and told her that she needed this to happen.

“I had a moment. Goosebumps,” recalled Webb with a big smile.

She started researching the program and putting together her application package, highlighting relevant experiences gained while working in museums at The Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre and Medalta.

After preparing herself for disappointment, Webb learned in January that the decision making process had been delayed and that she was in fact a successful candidate.

“I was ecstatic when I found out. I was at Medalta and started jumping up and down, running through the halls. Then I started calling everyone. I basically lost my mind for two hours.”

Webb leaves for Washington D.C. at the beginning of June, where she’ll spend 10 weeks working to develop programs that connect audiences with exhibitions and themes of American history. Specifically, her projects will relate to food and music, two subjects that she is passionate about and that tie in nicely to her experiences at Medalta.

While the placement is different than the one she initially applied for in the Smithsonian Office of Special Events and Protocol, she believes the opportunity will still be incredible.

“Most of all, I’m looking forward to bringing the knowledge and experience home to make a difference in Medicine Hat.”

Students interested in learning more about ASIP, or applying for the annual program, are encouraged to contact Nicole McIntosh in the Office of International Education.