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Becca Watford Pioneers Path for History Students

Becca Watford
Lander University senior Becca Watford, left, stands with Miriam Kleiman at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Kleiman is program director for Public Affairs with the Archives. Contributed photo.

It's only a matter of time before Greenwood-native Becca Watford calls Washington, D.C., her permanent home. The Lander senior recently finished a dream internship at the National Archives - the first-ever Lander student to do so.

But when it ended in December 2017, her bosses told her they weren't letting her go.

"And we didn't," said Miriam Kleiman, the Archives' program director for Public Affairs. "This past January, Becca became our first-ever 'long distance' intern."

This second internship is supposed to end in June, but Watford is seriously considering making the Archives her one-and-only career path.

"I'm hoping to get a permanent job there as an archivist after I graduate Lander in August 2018," said Watford, a history major. "If I cannot do that immediately, I will go to graduate school."

Despite being only 20, Watford's path to the Archives was long in the making.

She grew up with a knack for all things historical - be it pre-Columbus America, ancient Greek and Egyptian societies, or just learning about her own family's past.

After becoming a member of Lander's Honors College, she was encouraged to study abroad or do an internship. "So I did some research on interning opportunities with the Archives and applied to their History Office in mid-June 2017."

Within a few weeks, Watford was accepted.

"That was a very big deal," said Dr. Lillian Craton, associate professor of English and director of Lander's Honors College. "For Becca to work there puts her alongside - and learning from - some of the most important historians and writers in the nation."

Lander Professor of History Dr. Robert Figueira, who has taught Watford in four courses, added that her achievement will "greatly help Lander with future student-placements of this kind."

"Becca is a wonderful ambassador who makes the university, its history faculty, and its history majors look very good," Figueira said.

When asked about her biggest challenge to working in D.C., Watford said, "Trying to learn the city's Metro system."

"But," she added, "I think my most valuable experience has been to learn how a history degree can come in handy in new ways."​