Meet Our 2021 Summer Interns

This summer we have been fortunate to have two talented interns—Thara Michaelis and Maggie Rieckman—and they have been wonderful additions to our team. Both are students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Maggie—the 2021 Humanities Intern—is a double major in English and anthropology, and will graduate in 2022. She has spent the summer working on an educational outreach project, as well as on the front lines of tour and visitor engagement in our bookstore.

Thara is also an English major and has been working on several needed and important projects in our archives.

The Humanities Internship at the National Willa Cather Center is funded through a collaboration between the University of Nebraska and the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

What prompted you to apply for an internship?

THARA—I interned in the fully digital George Eliot Archive and working in a physical archive intrigued me. Both archives focused on authors I hadn’t read previously, but had heard much about. After a bit of research into Willa Cather, I knew that many of her characters were inspired by people she knew and that certain places she describes are places I could physically visit. Some day I would like to be an author and it's inspiring to look at what has inspired the great minds of others.

MAGGIE—I first learned about the NWCC as a scholarship recipient in 2018, and then I worked at the Willa Cather Archive within the UNL undergraduate research program. Continuing to pick up Cather bread crumbs, while also looking for a humanities-focused internship brought me here.

What is the scope of your internship?

THARA—I’m in the archives. In fact, I’m back there so much that a few of my coworkers tease about forgetting I am even here. I understand. I’ll just chill in the background clacking away on my keyboard. So far, I’ve worked on two main projects, both digitizing work. First, I organized the physical WCPM newsletters into files sorted by year. As I went, I catalogued them on a spreadsheet, checking for missing pages and noting anything unusual. Then I went through the digital copies of these newsletters, cataloguing them on the spreadsheet, backing a copy up onto Google drive, and fixing any errors. Currently, I’m reviewing the archive’s photo collection and then digitizing them for future use. Some photos are, unfortunately, missing. But there are some really good ones (with Beauty and the Beast costumes and elephants walking down Red Cloud’s main street), and I enjoy reading the postcards people used to send. (Shout out to Maggie who still uses postcards!)

MAGGIE—As a summer humanities intern, I am both working on the “front lines” in the bookstore as well as planning special projects behind the scenes. I am trained to give tours, and interacting with guests and helping them utilize our educational services is a large chunk of my job. I participate in the educational outcomes by organizing speakers for an online web landing page, brainstorming future social media content, and helping other employees with various tasks like mail ordering, stocking books, and even watering flowers. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

THARA—I was born and raised in Nebraska (Omaha/Bennington) and as a kid I thought of my Grandma and Grandpa’s house as a summer home. This house was bright yellow, on the paved part of a street that was brick when it got closer to the church (a 3 minute walk if I wasn’t walking with my grandparents). They lived in the small town of West Point, so I was already familiar with small towns before I came to Red Cloud. My Mom had left to go back to Germany just before my sister and I turned 2 (we’re twins), so my Grandma helped my Dad out a ton. My Grandpa stayed in Omaha with my Aunt Kelly who is disabled but one of the most amazing people since she wasn’t expected to walk and now they had to switch her from a walking competition to running in the Special Olympics.

I like to read and my Dad has always encouraged me to do my best academically and I’ve always held myself to a high standard. I am on UNL’s Dean's list, majoring in English and minoring in Spanish and Digital Humanities. I still have two years to go and really have no idea what exactly I want to be doing so I may change this at some point, hopefully figuring things out more definitely before I’m a senior.

MAGGIE—I grew up in Clay Center, Nebraska, a small town of 800 about an hour northeast of Red Cloud. For the past three years, I have been living in Lincoln while pursuing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. I am a double major in English and Anthropology with minors in global studies, film studies, and digital humanities. My most significant involvement at UNL is as a consultant and fellow at the writing center, where I have worked for the past two years.

What has your summer been like in Red Cloud?

THARA—I tell people I live over a museum at the Miner House. My summer has been great. The first half was relaxing and the second has been a little on the run since I procrastinated some things I could have done in the first. But my experiences have been enriching and I’m staying sufficiently on top of things.

MAGGIE—Since the middle of May, I have been living in the second floor apartment of the Miner House. My summer has been peaceful, challenging, energizing, and all of the good things that make me feel alive.

Any particular surprises, discoveries, or unexpected joys?

THARA—Well, I suppose I’ve heard about some out-there movies from Tracy that I might have to check out and my appreciation for the aesthetics of old pictures has grown.

MAGGIE—I did not expect to make so many personal connections this summer, coming from a university setting where I was seeing new faces every day. However, the National Willa Cather Center has given me this experience and more. New people enter the doors of the bookstore every day, and I have grown close enough to my coworkers and other locals that I am sad to go.

Where do you live otherwise?

THARA—Earlier in the summer I spent time with my parents and sister in Bennington, but I’ll be moving to Lincoln after the internship.

MAGGIE—Every weekend, I go back home to Clay Center to visit my parents. Their address is the one I put on documents that ask for my “permanent home.” (what a limiting phrase!)

What are some of your hobbies and interests?

THARA—I like watching foreign television on Netflix. I’m on the lookout for ones in Spanish so I can practice my listening skills. Also, I’m involved in the UNL Judo club and somehow its president, though I don’t have much experience.

MAGGIE—I love collecting and sending postcards: I have sent about 50 while living here. I also love putting together puzzles, and, by the way, the dining room table in the Miner House is the perfect size for a 1000 piece puzzle.

What’s next?

THARA—My internship ends on August 7, then I’ll briefly be at home in Bennington and afterwards off to resume my college journey post-Covid. I will graduate from college in May, 2023. This coming semester I’ll be working in UNL’s Writing Center as a writing fellow. I don’t know what I want to do after college quite yet. Eventually, I would like to write books, but I want to have a job on top of that. I like being busy and building relationships with coworkers.

MAGGIE—My internship wraps up on July 30, and exactly a month from then, I am flying to Europe for my semester abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece. There I will be taking my upper level archaeology classes, researching my senior thesis, and hopefully volunteering at local writing centers and other multicultural settings. After graduation, I have dreams of teaching English abroad through a program like Fulbright or Peace Corps. Following experience in the field, I want to obtain a master’s degree in international studies somewhere new to me in the world. As for long term goals, I want to work for the Department of State in the Bureau of International and Cultural affairs, with international students and scholars supporting their global educational outcomes.

Interested in being an intern with us? Contact our education coordinator, Rachel Olsen, at for opportunities and application timeframes.