Cooperative education helped grad realize her dream
When most kids were going to amusement parks or playing video games during the summer, Shanna Hein was developing her attachment for museums.
“As a kid my grandparents would take me on vacation for two weeks,” she said. “We could go anywhere in the U.S., but it needed to be educational or meaningful to get something from it.”
From the museum visits, Hein grew so interested in cultures and human behaviors that she decided to major in anthropology.
Then while a student at Wichita State University, she took three semesters of internships and volunteered in her field with WSU’s Cooperative Education and Work-Based Learning program.
“I wanted to get a sense on where my liberal arts degree in anthropology was taking me, because at the time you really have no idea," she said.
She was employed at the Museum of World Treasures as an intern while earning credit hours through co-op.
“Eventually I cataloged curatorial items and tended to ancient artifacts,” said Hein. “I did some exhibit projects and touched on multiple subjects. I enjoyed it.”
She said the hands-on experience she gained played out well to benefit her.
“I started going back to Wichita State as a returning adult when my daughter entered kindergarten, that way I could provide for her and my family,” she said. “It took me almost six years to complete, but well worth it.”
Hein a 2010 WSU graduate is now the director of operations for the Kansas Aviation Museum. It accommodates more than 40 one-of-a-kind aircraft, numerous airplane and jet engines, photos, books and memorabilia. The museum is located inside the building that once operated Wichita’s municipal airport terminal during the 1930s and 1940s.
Love of adventure
Even though she sits behind a desk, Hein still enjoys hunting and locating time-worn information.
Why the transition from mummies to aeronautical antiquities?
“They offered a better position and a higher level of income from my last job,” she said. “So I made the move to get the training and I haven’t regretted it.”
“Think of it,” she said. “The reaction to finding where Indians lived and roamed, or where Civil War soldiers once camped. Until its right in front of you, it’s not real. It’s just a story.”
She is especially passionate about exhibits.
“Creating, designing, doing the research and finding any object of great value,” Hein said, “then putting it all together for a unique learning adventure I just love it.”
She also works directly with the same co-op department that once helped her. Hein encourages new students to develop the right stuff for their own occupational or educational objectives.
“I push everybody,” she said. “If you acquire the opportunity to do it, do it. You get credit for it and you just can’t beat it.”
Museums educate and preserve the progress of people throughout the centuries, which Hein continues to cherish.
“When you’re in front of those treasures, you get a sense of a connection to the past that you don’t get anywhere else,” she said. “You can’t just read about it- you must experience it.”
“It’s kind of like a treasure hunt,” she said. “I know that my discovery is there I just need to look for it.”