It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached that time of the year when Michigan Tech excitedly welcomes new and returning students to campus. Another academic year is about to commence as students arrive on campus this weekend. Crazy, right?!
As with the rest of campus, the Michigan Tech Archives will welcome our own student library assistants back to the department very soon. We’re really looking forward to having our amazing student employees back on campus, summer always feels a bit strange for staff without them here.
That said, this fall is going to feel a little different for us as one of our long-term student library assistants won’t be returning this year. Becky Daniels began working in the Michigan Tech Archives her freshman year in 2016 and just this past spring graduated from Michigan Tech leaving the Archives after four wonderful years.
Due to the abrupt changes on campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, our staff unfortunately did not get to give Becky a proper farewell and thanks for her years with us. So, for this week’s Flashback Friday, we’re honoring the amazing contributions Becky has made to the Michigan Tech Archives by devoting our flashback to her. Before she departed, we asked Becky to write up a little piece about her time with us and final thoughts as she embarked on her new journey.
My first day in the archives feels like a lifetime ago, though, in reality, it was just under 4 years ago. When little freshman me applied for the position, she never knew it would become my second home on campus or that it would be so hard to say goodbye now that I am graduating. I can still remember the first few times I ventured back into the stacks to try to find something and found myself utterly lost or having to fetch Allison or Emily to help me do something for the fifth time that week. It felt like I would never really get the hang of it, but, somehow, I still found myself looking forward to coming back for my next shift. To be honest, I still wander into the stacks to put something back or retrieve a box and find myself at a loss on where I was going and have to pester Emily and Allison all of the time- it just feels like a part of the job now!
The position in the archives really pushed me to become a better, more rounded person. Very few projects I worked on required me to utilize my skills in calculus or physics- instead, they required patience, care, and attention to detail. Being an engineer is not the most helpful trait when you are on your fourth or fifth name on microfilm and you can’t find it anywhere on the slightly blurry newspaper pages or when Allison and Emily give you a “present”- an entire box of envelopes to be stamped. Instead, I had to learn to appreciate the quirky details on those pages and enjoy the time spent at the desk next to my friends with that ink pad and stamp in hand. I learned that even the most monotonous sounding projects had a bright side- from learning more about the local history to finding funny stories- that I may have taken for granted without these years in the archives.
I don’t mean to make it sound like my time in the archives was all long, tedious projects. To be honest, while there were one or two that I was more excited to be done with than not, I was more than happy to do them. I had never really enjoyed learning about history in a traditional classroom, but I loved having the opportunity to interact with and explore history in a way that not a lot of people do. On top of that, I gained incredible friendships with the people who worked down there with me. I always looked forward to coming in for a shift and getting to tell Allison and Emily what craziness had ensued in my life since the last shift. I can’t thank them enough for their support and love these past few years. Meeting new people was also a huge perk of the job- from patrons to the people who work with and around me. There are so many patrons that visit the archives with a story to tell or share their joy of finding something meaningful with us and it always makes the days exciting.
Some of my favorite projects from my time in the archives were the death inquests and the memorabilia collection. There were so many stories or cool objects we found while working on these. With these projects, too, I was given a lot of freedom to work at my own pace, make discoveries, and ask questions. I know I am extremely lucky for the opportunity to have the freedom I did to work and, ultimately, grow.
From here, I am moving to Kalamazoo, MI to start a full-time position as an engineer at Stryker. While I am excited to be starting the next chapter of my life, I will definitely miss the archives and, most importantly, the people there. Luckily, I know this isn’t goodbye forever and I will be back from time-to-time to visit the archives and the people I am lucky enough to call friends. Thank you Allison, Emily, and the rest of the staff down in the archives. I don’t think my Michigan Tech experience would have been as meaningful or fun without you all. ~ Becky Daniels
Becky, we can’t begin to thank you for your dedication and commitment to your work here at the Michigan Tech Archives; we know that your work with us will have a lasting impact on the countless researchers that will pass through our doors in the future for which we will always be grateful. Congratulations on your academic success at Michigan Tech and on behalf of the entire department we congratulate you both on the beginning of your new chapter at Stryker and your marriage tomorrow! Congratulations, Becky!