Gravestones teach history student lessons of the past

 

Brooke Talbott, a senior studying history, has spent more time in a cemetery this past semester than the average student. She has been working as an intern at Highland Cemetery, the oldest in Wichita. 

At first, Brooke was hesitant about working in a cemetery but says her time at Highland has actually been an extremely gratifying experience. 

One of her first assignments involved researching the genealogy of a family buried in the cemetery. While conducting her research, Brooke realized she loved the process and loved learning about the family’s history.

“This research really made the lives of the family come alive, and I couldn’t wait to research more,” Brooke said.

The internship also included cleaning gravestones, a job many people would find tedious. Brooke, however, enjoys freshening up the stones to honor the people they represent. 

“Cleaning the gravestones gives those buried in the cemetery the respect they deserve and is also a lot of fun to do,” Brooke said.

While working at Highland over the past semester, Brooke has learned more about how to clean stones and research genealogy. Spending time with the last reminders of the people buried there has shown her the significance of remembering those who came before us. 

“By taking care of Wichita's oldest cemetery, I feel like I'm giving back to those who helped build our community,” Brooke said. “This internship has taught me the importance of caring for the forgotten as well as learning their histories.”

By taking care of Wichita's oldest cemetery, I feel like I'm giving back to those who helped build our community. This internship has taught me the importance of caring for the forgotten as well as learning their histories.
Brooke Talbott, senior

As she prepares to graduate on May 16, Brooke took a moment to reflect on her time at Wichita State, from her decision to attend WSU to the lessons she’s learned along the way.

Although Brooke had been to events on campus before she became a WSU student, it wasn’t until looking at WSU from the lens of a potential student that she truly began to appreciate it. 

“As soon as I stepped onto campus for my first official college visit, I immediately felt comfortable and could see myself as a Shocker,” Brooke said. “My mom likes to joke that the Shocker Hall ice cream machine is what really convinced me to choose WSU though.” 

Brooke credits much of her success at WSU to her teachers for challenging her and giving her opportunities to learn and grow in both education and leadership.  

“These history professors have pushed me and encouraged me since the first day of my freshman year, and I cannot thank them enough for everything that they have done for me,” Brooke said.

After she graduates, Brooke plans to attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in history. Eventually, she wants to work in a museum or become a park ranger. 

Because of her time at WSU, Brooke feels ready to move on and continue her education journey. 

“My most helpful learning experience while being a student at WSU has been learning to lean into discomfort,” Brooke said. “Our campus provides so many opportunities for growth and development, opportunities which have helped mold me into the person I am today.”

 


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