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Photograph by Richard W. Strauss

Through her family ties and educational pursuits, Kristi Mukk, ’19, was well-suited for the Smithsonian Institution internship she landed in the summer of 2019. As part of the inaugural cohort of American Women’s History Initiative interns, she helped organize “Towards a More Inclusive Military History,” a symposium highlighting women in the military.

Mukk, the daughter of an Air Force veteran, acknowledged that the project “definitely felt like very high stakes” because of the Smithsonian’s prominence, but the internship simply built upon her undergraduate work with Bunk History — a project led by Edward Ayers, president emeritus — and the Race and Racism at the University of Richmond project.

The latter experience raised her consciousness about “archival activism and actively making those connections between the past and navigating our present moment — and also trying to imagine what we would like the future to look like,” she said.

That background informed her work as she collaborated with curators from several museums to plan the symposium and ensure it was accessible for the wide variety of potential attendees.

“I feel like we’re at a really interesting national moment right now where we’re trying to reconcile all these incidents of racism or sexism in our past,” said Mukk, who was based at the National Museum of American History for her internship.

“I’m just really lucky that I got to work on all the projects that I did and have so many great mentors from across different fields who were able to give me advice and help prepare me.”