NKU Grad Lands Dream Job at New Orleans Museum
NKU alum Brandon Stephens has been named curator at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, one of the most prestigious and important museums in the United States.
Stephens is a 2013 graduate of the NKU Master of Arts in Public History program and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in History from NKU. The Fort Wright, Kentucky, native will move to New Orleans next month and will begin his exciting new job May 19 where his work will reach a global audience.
“The museum is so large and has such a large and diverse collection that a team of several curators and a registrar, as well as volunteers, are required to maintain it,” Brandon said. “My job will include everything from driving the museum's large fleet of vehicles (including tanks, jeeps, and trucks) to new spaces in the museum to donor relations, to researching objects for informational exhibit displays and text. That's the great thing about working in museums; you never have the same day twice!”
His new job has been a year in the making.
“Around a year ago the National WWII Museum posted a job opening for a new curator, and a few months later I was sent a link by a third party I've worked with before and told I should apply,” Brandon said. “In March I got a call saying that I had done very well on the test and after a short phone interview was asked to go down to New Orleans for an in-person interview.”
Two days later – just as he arrived back in Kentucky -- he was offered the job.
“I am extremely honored to have been given this opportunity,” Brandon said. “At 26 I am going to be doing my dream job at one of the largest, most famous museums in the entire country.”
Brandon has been interested in military history since he was a child and since graduation, he has been working nearby at Disabled American Veterans (DAV) headquarters in Cold Spring as museum curator and historian.
“I'm an Army brat,” Brandon said. “I spent the better part of my childhood moving from post to post. Our longest (and for me, most memorable) assignment was Heidelberg, Germany. We spent years there, and during that time is when my interest in history really started to form.
“Roman fort ruins could be reached by car in under an hour, and the local castle could be reached by bus or bike in just a few minutes. Even the military hospital we would visit when ill was full of history – what at that time was the radiology department was the same room that General George S. Patton had died in in 1945.”
Brandon developed his interest in World War II while he lived on a military post that had been founded in the wake of the war.
“We attended 50th anniversary of D-Day events and 50th anniversary of VE Day events, and my mother in particular made sure that we visited cemeteries, memorials, and museums honoring the sacrifices that were made in the largest war in human history,” Brandon said.
Brandon said the programs in which he studied at NKU also made a great impact. A practicum project all Master of Arts in Public History program students must complete led to his job at the DAV and helped him get his foot in the door in the museum field.
“NKU taught me so much, but most importantly I really think they expanded by horizons,” Brandon said. “Professors like Dr. Jonathan Reynolds, Dr. Francois LeRoy, and Kathleen Quinn introduced me to fields and eras of history that I had known little about; as a result I developed a love for a wide-ranging field of topics and am a better overall historian as a result. The Master of Arts in Public History program, and director Dr. Brian Hackett in particular, has been massively advantageous in my career. The program's emphasis on hands-on field work and projects with community partners gave me far more tangible work experience than others my age who have recently graduated.”
From Northern Kentucky University
Written By Tom Ramstetter, Web Marketing + Communications