These alumni highlights were published the date indicated below the articles. To update your own entry, please send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org with the Re: line of "Alumni Corner Update." Thank you.
Gary Skory (1978)
Gary Skory, CMU alumnus, joined the Midland County Historical Society in 1988 as the project manager
for the Herbert H. Dow Historical Museum, and was named director in
1990. In addition to maintaining a vigorous public speaking schedule, he
was involved in the planning and construction of the Herbert D. Doan
Midland County History Center;
established an online archive of Midland County historical documents,
making research sources available to people far and wide; curated
exhibitions of interest to local history enthusiasts such as VOICES:
Extraordinary Women of Midland County in 2011; created popular
historical tours of the Midland Cemetery; programmed the Heritage Series
of informational lectures covering topics from the Chemical Bank
robbery of 1937 to the Dionne Quintuplets of Canada; and created a
vibrant educational program at Heritage Park that welcomes hundreds of
students each year to learn about the history of our region.
Gary is retiring in June, 2019, and says he's looking forward to, ". . .more walks along the Lake Michigan
shoreline, more focused writing, more old house restoration work on the
Endless Project and my Midland home, more coffee, traveling,
sugarhouse/syruping expansion...and some new plans and opportunities,
(Published May 2019)
Jenny Chisnell (2007)
Over a decade after graduating, Jenny Chisnell regularly
references concepts learned in her Museum Studies courses ranging from textiles
to taxidermy. Jenny says, “Combined with my English degree, and subsequently
augmented by a Masters' in Library Science, my MST work skillfully prepared me
for a successful career as a Rare Books Librarian, employed by world class
institutions like the Brooklyn Museum of Art.” Jenny has worked for nearly two
years at the New York Public Library. Working there was her childhood dream job
and Jenny says, “Nearly two years in, I still wake up excited to go to work in
the morning. And I have CMU's Museum Studies Program to thank for ultimately
leading me to the career bliss I am humbled to possess today. Museum Studies at
Central Michigan University was the best part of my undergraduate education.”
(Published in December 2018)
Marie Taylor (2005)
Marie (Morgan) Taylor (2005) has been a Preservation Technician with the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, since 2015. After graduating from CMU, Marie moved to St. Louis to pursue a graduate degree in History with a certificate in Museum Studies. While working in various areas of the museum field, she became part of the team at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) working on the burned files from the 1973 fire at the former Military Personnel Records Center. In this photo she is photographing an extremely special military service record that cannot be handled in the research room. This service record was salvaged from the USS Arizona after it was sunk in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Marie says, "I love my job and work that we do to provide access to special collections like these."
(Published in November 2018)
Kelly Sczomak (2014)
Since graduation, Kelly Sczomak has worked as a Park Ranger for six National Parks, including Yosemite National Park, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Kelly is currently the Lead Interpretive Ranger at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, in Woodstock, Vermont, and has focused her career on creating inclusive programming, youth outreach, and promoting environmental stewardship. Kelly says, "I am proud to work for a federal organization that not only protects special places, but reminds Americans to seek lessons in our country's imperfections." For more information about careers in the National Park Service, contact Kelly at email@example.com
(Published in November 2018)
Ken Carstens (1971)
Dr. Ken Carstens grew up in Pinconning, Michigan. He initially attended CMU on a baseball (pitching) scholarship, but he also had a close association with anthropology and archaeology faculty and graduate students at UofM (Jimmy Griffin/James E. Fitting) and MSU (Charles Cleland). In 1969, CMU offered only one introduction to cultural anthropology and one introduction to physical anthropology (biological) course. Not to be deterred, Ken sought the assistance of CMU President William Boyd, and Dr. Boyd eventually hired Karen Chavez (ABD, Penn).
At the same time, Carstens worked with the first director of the Center for Cultural and Natural History (CCNH), Dr. Hal Mahan, as he built the museum and held the first archaeological field school at the Lalone site in Arenac County in 1969. Carstens was the first CMU undergraduate student to present a paper at the Michigan Academy of Sciences and subsequently, as an undergraduate, published the paper in The Michigan Archaeologist. The museum held a second archaeological field school at the Tobico Site (20By31) in Bay County, and Carstens also published that report as an undergraduate.
Ken went on to complete his MA and PhD through the tutelage of Professor Patty Jo Watson at Washington University-St. Louis, working along Kentucky's famed Green River, among its prehistoric shell mounds, and throughout the world’s longest cave system and uniquely preserved organic cave materials. Ken helped co-develop the first flotation recovery machine for archaeological research with Dr. Watson, and published results of their work in the book Of Caves and Shell Mounds (UA Press/Tuscaloosa, 1996).
Ken took his first academic position at Northern Kentucky University, and subsequently took the directorship of the anthropology and archaeology programs at Murray State University in 1976 and 1978, respectively. He retired from Murray State University in 2007 with Professor emeritus status, but retirement was not in Ken’s blood; he took a per course faculty position at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, in 2016, and between 2007 and 2016, continued to teach web-based anthropology and world history courses for Murray State University.
To date, Ken has instructed more than 18,000 students, several of whom were selected as Lambda Alpha “top anthropology student in the nation.” Ken has published nine books (with five more in various stages of publication); conducted, edited, or supervised more than 500 contract Section 106 reports; generated more than $1,000,000 in grants, contracts and properties for Murray State; and presented more than 200 peer-reviewed technical papers with more than 100 peer-reviewed published professional papers, book chapters, encyclopedic entries, and book reviews.
Ken considers his time at CMU as the most significant in his life, and the opportunities and friendships created during that time influence every success he has had throughout his career and life. He recently said, “I’m very proud to have been part of the origin of CMU’s campus Museum!” (Published in August 2018)
Hannah Gulick (2012)
Hannah Gulick and her husband Ben, also a CMU alumnus (2013), moved to Japan in the summer of 2016 when she was hired as an English teacher at a senior high school. She majored in Anthropology and History and minored in Museum Studies. Hannah says, "If not for my time at CMU, I would never have found my passion for Japanese culture, which then led me to move to Japan and find my other passion: teaching!" She and Ben plan on moving back to the U.S. in August. Hannah hopes to return to the field of museum work. The photo was taken in Numata Park, Numata City, Japan, in front of the famous cherry blossom trees in Numata Park.
(Published in July 2018)
Brett Alger (2003)
Brett Alger majored in Biology and minored in Museum Studies at CMU. While attending CMU he usually worked two part-time jobs, and he says, “I learned the value of a good education, and discovered that meeting people and developing relationships in life is just as important as facts from a text book.” He now works at the National Marine Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He looks back on his time at CMU fondly, and says it was a place “. . .that gave me tools to be successful in raising a family.
(Published in June 2018)
Dan Erickson (1987)
Dan Erickson's graduate student work from CMU helped him get a job immediately upon graduation at Chase Studio in Cedar Creek, Missouri. Chase Studio specializes in exhibits for natural history museums. He collected specimens, did molding and casting, and created finished models and installations. He then became an exhibit preparator at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, where he worked for 21 years. He also did freelance work for the American Museum of Natural History, making life-size models of prehistoric fish (see photo). Dan now works at the U of M's School of Music, Theatre & Dance, University Productions. He was hired to create stage props and is currently the Properties Carpenter/Artisan. Dan says, "Although I had zero theatrical experience, I have found making stage props and museum exhibits use many of the same skills and materials."
(Published in May 2018)
Harold "Hal" Mahan (1971)
Dr. Harold (“Hal”) D. Mahan was was appointed by President Boyd as the first director of what is now the CMU Museum of Cultural and Natural History. He served half-time as director and half-time as a professor in the Department of Biology. Through his efforts and the efforts of over 87 CMU students, faculty, and community volunteers, the new center opened its door to the public in March 1971. Dr. Mahan and his wife, Laura, both professional naturalists with extensive backgrounds in natural history museums and science education, created a locally-owned, independent store and gathering place for naturalists in Asheville, North Carolina, called The Compleat Naturalist. You may contact Dr. Mahan at
firstname.lastname@example.org or The Compleat Naturalist website.
(Published in April 2018)
Bill McElhone (1984)
Bill volunteered at the CMU museum while working on both History and Art degrees and a minor in biology (now known as Museum Studies). Central gave me plenty of hands-on experience and academic training that supported pursuit of an MA in History and Archive Administration from Wayne State University. I have been working in museums since high school and am glad that CMU provided the foundational work for a career in museums. I now work at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and have been in leadership positions for the last 17 years. I still have the opportunity to dive into historical research with collections. (Submitted in March 2018)
Abbie Diaz (2014)
Abbie Diaz is the Education Coordinator in Student Experiences at the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago. Her team leads programs on everything from chemistry and physics to medical science and a live heart surgery. Abbie is also the accessibility and inclusion lead in education. She partners with schools and local organizations to make sure science and learning at MSI are accessible to learners of all backgrounds and abilities. She says, "I sign my emails 'museums are for everyone' and I work every day to make that a reality."
(Submitted in February 2018)