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RAMble, the University Libraries' blog

On Graduating and All Things WCU: Senior Grace Citro Reflects on Her College Experience and Working at Special Collections

by Bridget Voltz on 2022-04-29T15:08:00-04:00 | Comments

On Graduating and All Things WCU: Senior Grace Citro Reflects on Her College Experience and Working at Special Collections 

By Grace Citro, WCU Special Collections Student Worker and Jenna Bossert, WCU Special Collections Technician

Grace Citro in The Quad her Freshman Year - was on Display at WCU 150 Exhibition


 

Grace Citro & Allison Magerr at  WCU 150 Exhibition case co-curated by Allison 
 
Jenna Bossert (JB): Grace Citro joined our team in Fall 2021 at the start of her senior year. While her time with us has been short, she has been an asset to have on our team. I caught up with Grace for a bit of Q & A to discuss her year of working with us and her time at WCU. 
 
Grace Citro (GC): Hello, friends! My name is Grace Citro, and I am a student worker at WCU’s Special Collections, the amazing archives located on the 6th Floor of the FHG Library! As I see flowers blooming around the Rammy statue, I know it is springtime, and that means it is almost time for graduation! As my undergraduate experience comes to an end, I have been reflecting on the past five years of being a proud Golden Ram in the Ram Fam.  

Grace Citro & Allison Magerr at

WCU 150 Exhibition case co-curated

by Allison 


JB: What is or are your major(s)/minor(s)?   

GC: I am a double major in the WCU Honors College, graduating with a B.A. in History and a B.S. Ed. in Secondary Special Education. I also will graduate with a Social Studies Teacher Certification and a Minor in Civic and Professional Leadership. 
 

JB: What have you been involved in during your time as a West Chester student? (clubs, organizations, communities on campus, etc.)  

GC: During my time at WCU, I have been in the Honors Student Association (HSA) and the Off-Campus and Commuter Association (OCCA), where I have been the OCCA secretary for the past two years. During my junior year, I was an American Association of University Women student representative, and in my sophomore year, I had the privilege to engage in an internship through the WCU History Department to work on the Vineland Training School Archives. That archive is one of the oldest American institutions for those with intellectual and physical ability differences.  
 

JB: What do you like to do for fun? 

GC: I love to be outside, cook vegan food for my family, and paint kindness rocks, which I leave in my neighborhood and in other areas (such as the library) to promote kindness to one another and the environment. I enjoy biking and staying active as well.  River Rocks of Kindness on display at the FHG Library Help Desk by Grace Citro

JB: As a senior, what are some things you would recommend students do before graduating from West Chester?  

GC: Friends, if you haven’t gone to the South Campus Robert B. Gordon Natural Area, please do! When I was a freshman, I would walk down there and do yoga in the woods. It was my safe and happy place. No matter what I was going through, I could always count on nature to refresh my mind. Also, please try Cookie Dope! I am obsessed with it… they have vegan cookie dough! Truly amazing. Dia Doce Cupcakes is another favorite, as they make scrumptious vegan cupcakes (and gluten free AND gluten free vegan ones, too!). 
 

JB: What are some of your favorite parts of working in Special Collections?  

GC: I love working in Special Collections because of the people there, Jenna Bossert and Ron McColl, "Still Pink after 185 years (flower emoji, tulip emoji, heart emoji)" - Grace Citrowho are so kind and have provided me with such amazing experiences. I have helped to digitize plant specimens from William Darlington’s Herbarium from the 1800s. I love seeing the historical items, photographs, and documents and thinking, “Wow, this was touched by _____ or was used _____ many years ago!”  

I love that I can do history justice by making collections accessible and giving those in history who may not have their stories told or their images known and acknowledged. I feel like I am contributing to preservation and reinterpretation of not only WCU’s history, but Chester County's history and beyond too. 
 

JB: What has been your favorite collection/object that you have worked with here at Special Collections? 

GC: My favorite collection has definitely been the William Darlington Herbarium Collection, as I love plants. I actually wanted to be a science major when I first came to WCU, but after failing chemistry nearly twice… I decided math and science fields were not for me, hah! Seeing coffee, cucumber, and blueberry plants from the early to mid 1800s was so amazing, as my grandfather, who is from Italy, has taught me to love plants through his passion for gardening and growing his own produce. It’s truly amazing to think that the plants in this collection once produced food that fed people decades and decades ago! Not to mention, those seeds are heirloom seeds!  

Also, there is a photo of a clown that I found one day; it seems the clown was at a festival event here on campus from the 1970s or 1980s. The photo is so oddly taken, and the clown is definitely caught off guard. It makes me crack up laughing every time I look at it. So, that clown photo is definitely a runner-up to the Darlington Collection. 
 

JB: How has your experience with the University Libraries changed since working within a department here?   

GC: Working in Special Collections has really changed how I see the library and appreciate it for all it has and can do, not just what we typically think a"nature is beautiful, even at 100 plus years old (yellow heart emoji, red heart emoji, butterfly emoji, sunflower emoji, halo emoji)" - Grace Citro library does. WCU Libraries is not just a giant building with books and desks where you can come to study. It is so multifaceted with specialized employees, such as those in the IMC who can help you with creating presentations, printing artwork, and more. The ILL office is the entire reason why professors have chapters and documents for you available to read on D2L, and the ILL ships and receives books and items from other ILL departments for student, staff, and faculty use!  

The library offers research help from specialized librarians to assist different academic departments, such as education, business, and STEM. Although there are specialized areas and people, the library is still one interconnected and united library family. University Libraries and all its folks are truly amazing and help make the campus thrive!  

 

"Strawberries from the 1840s" - Grace CitroJB: Similarly, how has your experience at West Chester University changed since working at Special Collections?  

GC: Working at Special Collections gave me a peaceful outlet, as my senior year has been hectic with classes and student teaching. Being in a quiet space with documents and projects was relaxing and provided me with a sense of calm, and really allowed me to just be with my thoughts and focus on my tasks. Working at Special Collections changed how I see WCU as an institution. Before working here, I saw WCU as “the 2017-Present WCU.” Now, having studied the history of West Chester and seeing primary source documents and photos that show the evolution of WCU, I see it as a multidimensional institution, which has so many stories, important events, and narratives that are both positive and negative. As I walk around campus now, I understand the historical significance of different landmarks, buildings, and plaques, and it has allowed me to build a closer relationship with WCU.  
 

JB: What is something that you have learned from working at Special Collections that you will take away with you for future opportunities/jobs?  

GC: Paying attention to detail and not knowing all the answers are two takeaways from working at Special Collections. When we glance at something or assume we know what a photo is of or what a document says, we often miss out on the amazing realities of that image or document. Instead of rushing,"Circa 1830 flowers are the best flowers (heart emoji, halo emoji, sunflower emoji)" - Grace Citro taking your time with handling things- anything, really- is so valuable. We take it for granted. Examining with the intent to acknowledge and discover respects the item/document itself and the idea of knowledge and investigation in general.  

“Not knowing all the answers is okay,” is another takeaway. Sometimes we find documents or pictures that have no context, and it can be frustrating. However, that is sometimes what happens. Instead of dismissing the item, keep it in the back of your mind, and you may just find something that helps add a piece to the puzzle. This is where paying attention to detail comes in; sometimes a name or a place or date aligns with something you previously looked at, and with further investigative research and “connecting the dots,”, you can help piece together the story and build a historical narrative! This idea also leads to this essential concept: A picture is worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t hold all the words.” There’s always more to everything; more perspectives, more ideas, more pictures, etc. Keep an open mind and always acknowledge the potential unknowns. 

As a future educator, I will take these into my classroom as I work with students. It reminds me to take my time, and to focus on my students as a holistic individual; they are not just students. When a student is having an off day or is struggling with work, I won’t just examine their F test grade as a sole representation of who they are. Instead, I will think about what could be impacting them in their lives outside of the room, for example. Also, as a teacher, I need to make sure I provide multiple perspectives on history, especially if I teach social studies. I also want to incorporate multi-media representation of history to suit the learning differences of my students. Pictures, documents, videos, art, and so many other forms of history can all be used to teach!  

 
 


 


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