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To England, the Library, and Back

April 18, 2019

Portrait of Dana Queen

Portrait of Dana Queen
Photo by Phuong Tran, CLAgency student

On what drew her to the University of Minnesota, undergraduate senior Dana Queen says, “I remember getting really excited about the study abroad program, which is a big part of why I chose the U.” 

She speaks highly of her six months studying abroad at the University of York in England. While there, Queen fully immersed herself in the culture. “If I had stayed any longer, I would have had to get a different visa,” she laughs. It was the perfect supplement to her double major in anthropology and history.

Finding Her Niche

Queen knew she had big dreams upon arriving at the University of Minnesota. She originally planned on a career as a history museum curator. However, as she gained more experience in both her majors, another profession caught Queen’s eye: a children’s and young adult librarian. 

“I am interested in programming, which is what my thesis [topic] is. Programming and the fact that it can impact communities makes me really interested in informal learning spaces for people who learn better outside the classroom,” she says. “I want to be a children's and young adult librarian with more focus in putting together the programs catered to that group of people.” 

Gaining Experience

To gain experience in programming and event planning, Queen has divided her time among many activities. From her participation in the Dean’s First-Year Research and Creative Scholars Program, she got a position working at the UMN Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, handling their collections and taking photos. She spent one summer working full-time to catalog their library. By the time she graduates, Queen will have worked with the center for three and a half years. 

She also serves as the fundraising coordinator for the University’s Undergraduate Anthropology Club. “We worked pretty hard on this year’s conference. The theme is Anthropology of Science Fiction, which is exciting,” she says. Queen has been busy perfecting details for the conference while also building her skills as an organizer for future library events. 

Seeing the Bigger Picture

The learning abroad experience Queen had was organized through the history department and partially made possible by the Elizabeth E. Roth Scholarship, as well as a scholarship from the UMN Learning Abroad Center. Queen even took enough credits to finish her history degree while taking classes abroad. 

Along with her fondness for anthropology, history, and libraries, collecting friends from around the globe is also important to Queen. She recalls a spontaneous trip to France during her time studying in England: “I ended up meeting seven others in the same hostel, and we all got along well...We all traveled together and became close.” 

She says that some of the biggest takeaways she gained through studying abroad were a deeper understanding of other cultures and gaining new perspectives, not to mention having to solve her own travel challenges. “Traveling on your own is something a lot of people don’t get to experience. It’s a whole different set of skills when you’re alone. You have to rely on yourself a lot more.” 

“I feel very strongly about meeting people from all over,” Queen says. “The people in your little circle aren’t the only people out there,” she says. “I think that was the biggest impact.” This broad perspective that Queen has gained positively influences her versatility in the world of library curation through bringing a better understanding of how to include other cultural perspectives into the programs she wants to create.

Cultivating Competencies

Queen reflects on the competencies she has gained during her time in the College of Liberal Arts: “Oral and written communication are big ones. I write a lot with my majors and I’ve definitely improved since I was a freshman. There’s also always teamwork involved, along with critical thinking. I think all of them are covered when you start to think about research.” 

After graduating in spring 2019, Queen hopes to continue her education and get a master’s degree in library information science. 

This story was written by an undergraduate student in CLAgency. Meet the team.