Alumna Achieves Success at US Holocaust Memorial Museum through Faculty Support
During a recent trip to Washington, DC, hosted by the Cohen Center at Keene State, students learned from the extensive exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and connected with alumna Emily Robinson ’16, who currently works at the museum in the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. Her path to success began at Keene State, fueled by her passion to make a difference.
Robinson made the connection with USHMM through Dr. Paul Vincent, her professor at the time in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program – the only baccalaureate program of its kind in the United States. When the opportunity for a position at the institution was sent to Holocaust and Genocide Studies alumni from Keene State, Robinson jumped at the chance.
Between high school and college, Robinson partook in Semester at Sea where she visited the killing fields in Cambodia. “That was, I guess, where questions like ‘Why does this happen?’ got stuck in my head,” she said. Following her time in Cambodia, Robinson volunteered with the International Rescue Committee, working with refugees who had recently come to the United States. Robinson said this was where she really began to ask the questions that corresponded with a career in studying genocide.
When she came to Keene State in 2012, Robinson initially declared as a physical education major before moving into Holocaust and Genocide Studies. “I remember after our first class with Dr. Jim Waller, a fellow student looked at me and said ‘Wow. I’m so excited. This is what I want to do with my life.’ She had said exactly what I was feeling,” said Robinson. “I was hooked both because of how amazing Dr. Vincent and Dr. Waller were, and because of the people I had alongside me in classes.”
The skills Robinson developed while completing her degree at Keene State are directly applicable to the work she does at USHMM daily. “Whether I’m reading from a microfilm of documents from the 1930s/40s or a newspaper article from last week, being able to analyze the greater, or lesser, implications of those documents is an important skill,” she said. “The Holocaust and Genocide Studies major also prepared me to be able to emotionally deal with working with traumatic subject matter on a pretty regular basis.”
While the work may be harrowing, the need to continuously study the causes and effects of genocide is clearly apparent. “It is crucial to learn from the lessons that history has ‘taught’ us. I use quotations here because so far ‘never again’ has not become a reality; the phenomenon of genocide has happened again and is happening today,” said Robinson. “As Dr. Vincent has said to me before, ‘History doesn’t repeat itself, but there are echoes.’ I hold onto the belief that when we listen to the echoes, and truly listen, it is possible to build a more peaceful world without genocide and other infringements upon basic human rights.”