Ozarks students spend summer working at CNN and Civil War fort

Release Date: 1/4/2006

Internships give students work in television production and historical interpretation.

CLARKSVILLE, ARK. (January 4, 2006) -- While many students spend their summer relaxing, at least two U of O students were busy participating in summer internships that provided valuable on-the-job experience and helped prepare them for their future.

Senior communications major Marcella Serrano of El Salvador interned at CNN News in New York City and junior history major Sirenna Evans of Missouri spent her summer as an intern at Fort Delaware near Philadelphia. Both enjoyed experiences they will never forget.

Serrano was one of 62 interns, out of hundreds who applied, to be accepted at CNN News. For two months Serrano took a subway from Queens to New York City, where she spent 40 hours a week working with the executive producer in the business updates department, making graphics for the stock market close, logging tapes, and finding hits, or stories, for the newscast.

“Each day I would go to the 10th floor of the New York library to find video to match what the anchor presents,” said Serrano.

Serrano also had the opportunity to practice writing stories and went out in the field with CNN Español. One day, Serrano helped anchor Valerie Morris with a man-on-the-street video. She also got to go with Morris’ producer to interview citizens on identity theft.

One of the most exciting events of the internship for Serrano was getting to meet famous people. “I had the chance to meet Barbara Walters, Larry King, Nancy Grace and others,” she said.

Serrano said the internship has influenced her future career plans.

“My goal is to be an anchor, live in London, and work for the BBC," said Serrano. This was the best experience of my life, and it has defined what I want to do in the future."

Evans drove 1,150 miles to do a history internship at Fort Delaware, on Pea Patch Island on the Hudson Rive, just south of Philadelphia. Her internship was coordinated through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in collaboration with the Americorps program.

Fort Delaware, a more modern fort of the 1800s, was originally created to protect Philadelphia from Confederate naval raids. It later became a prison.

Interns such as Evans come to the fort each year to give tours, while pretending to be a character that lived there during the 1860s to show visitors how people lived during the era.

After arriving, Evans attended sessions on interpreting and learned how to talk to tourists while staying in character. Evans even dressed in authentic period clothing of the 1860s and carried out daily chores while tourists watched.

“Each day I would get on a workboat that took me to the island, then spend over an hour getting dressed each day,” she said. “I had to wear six layers of clothing in the heat and fix my hair in period style.”

Evans played four different characters, all of whom actually existed. The most common character Evans played was named Mrs. Julia Gunning, a domestic worker. Evans said it was difficult to be this character because she had an Irish accent.

“The character actually had to be modified to fit me!” Evans said.

One of the most exciting experiences for Evans was playing the kitchen ghost.

“Fort Delaware is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Delaware,” said Evans. “Every three weeks we gave ghost tours, and it really drew people in.”

Evans felt like she learned more than she ever expected.

“I learned a tremendous amount about Civil War history in only two months,” Evans said. “I also learned a lot about life in the 1800s. It’s one thing to read about it, but it’s totally real when you have to live it.”

**For more information on history internships at Ozarks click here.