History Grad Starts Career at Historic Landmark in Stockbridge

May 16, 2018


Tianna Darling

History major Tianna Darling ’18 is off to a great start on her museum career. Soon, she will begin a paid internship at Chesterwood in Stockbridge, Mass., originally the summer estate and studio of American sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1831). Most of the estate is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The property was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965 in recognition of French’s artistic contributions.

Darling is the museum program and events intern at Chesterwood.

She served two internships as an MCLA student: One at the North Adams Public Library during her sophomore year, and the second at Arrowhead, author Herman Melville’s historic house and museum in Pittsfield, just prior to her senior year. Other activities included Dance Company, which she joined as a first-year student, and serving as an ambassador for MCLA’s Office of Admission.

These activities helped me grow as a person,” Darling explained. “When I came to MCLA I was extremely shy and would never have thought that, four years later, I would be leading tours around campus or helping to direct a club with 60 active members.”

Darling decided to major in history because she loves learning about the past and how it relates to the present. “I find the stories fascinating,” she said. “I chose to minor in public history because it allows you to share those stories in a way that is different than a classroom setting.”

She also minored in physics. “I love learning about space exploration and manned flights because it is all so exciting. I enjoy learning about the technical side, as well as the human component. Especially with the space race, there was an intensity and excitement in the time period that makes it fun to learn about. The accomplishments that came out of that era are amazing.”

Last semester, Darling participated in MCLA’s Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) where she presented “The Impact of Soviet Secrecy on the Space Race.” She also presented this research at the 24th Massachusetts Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference.

The experience, which took place at UMASS-Amherst, “was exciting because I was able to present to students and faculty aside from those at MCLA. It was also exciting to be able to present my research for a second time.” One day, Darling plans to earn a master’s degree in either public history or museum studies.  “Presenting at this conference helped me to gain an understanding for what that might be like in the future,” she said.

Her studies at MCLA almost did not happen. During her college search in high school, Darling grew tired of looking at schools, but her mother pushed her to check out MCLA. “I am so glad she did,” she said. “I love the sense of community here; it felt like a place I could see myself for the next four years.”

“MCLA helped me grow as a student,” Darling said. “My professors pushed me to be the best I could be, even if that meant calling on me in class to push me out of my comfort zone because they knew I avoided talking in front of people whenever possible. ... I would definitely recommend MCLA to others. It’s a school where you can really make your own way, and get the most out of your experience.”