In her third and final semester in the Applied History Graduate Program, Abigail Koontz is excited to put what she’s learned to work at the Fashion Archives & Museum at Shippensburg University (FA&M). From fixing garments to preparing an upcoming exhibit, Koontz loves getting to “know the history behind the pieces.”

As part of her independent study this semester, Koontz is part of the team readying the newest exhibit at FA&M. In what she calls “stories of the archives,” she’s excited to look and feel the new clothing the archives obtained, as well as working with fellow Ship students and volunteers to put it all together.

“My sewing skills are very basic, but I’m learning that some of the volunteers and student workers are great and help me with that. Then I’ll put together the history of the pieces and present them online,” Koontz explains.

Ship’s Applied History program offers both undergraduate and graduate students the chance to be up close and personal with the variety of historical places the Cumberland Valley has to offer. And students working at the Fashion Archives are lucky to have the museum right next to campus to come and go as much as you want.

“Applied History degrees are great to have I feel,” says Koontz. “It really combines the tactile learning elements with the aspects of a history degree. It’s great to have the Fashion Archives & Museum right here because you can come and learn about the history, but also work on the pieces. You can get hands-on experience, which is what you’ll be using in future internships and careers. Working with clothing and textiles tells stories in different ways, you get to know the person and what their experience might have been.”

While the educational setting is important, Koontz says that it’s these experiences at FA&M that make her enjoy her work even more.

“I’ve had different internships and I love learning history in the classroom, but then I came here and worked and felt I was in the right place and I’m doing the things I want to be doing, and that I love doing.”