Skip Navigation

Keene State Grad Madison Strausser ’17 Discovers the Cool in Covert, Museum-Style

Story By:
Paul Miller | Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations
Madison Strausser '17 at the International Spy Museum
An exhibit technician at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., Madison Strausser '17 is forging a career that has fed her passion since she was a high schooler

Stories about Keene State graduates who step into careers that align with their studies and passions never get old. In fact, they make for our favorite stories.

Take Madison Strausser ’17, who fashioned her degree in Holocaust & genocide studies and her minor in art history into this fascinating position: Exhibit Technician at the International Spy Museum in L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C.

The museum, which sees more than 600,000 visitors annually, is home to the largest collection of international espionage artifacts on public display and is popular for its interactive features. Visitors, for example, receive a cover identity, an undercover mission, and get to see their spy skills tested as they navigate the sprawling museum, relocated to this site in 2019.

Madison, a Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, native, long imagined a career in the museum field.

Before her current position, she was a Guest Services Operative at the Spy Museum, and before that, she was a master’s student at the Center for European Studies at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.

Madison Strausser

I thought I would someday work with museum collections, but this job has opened my eyes to the exhibit-production side of museums. I love my job; it is always hands-on and I never have a boring day.”

– Madison Strausser ‘17

“As a high school student,” Madison says, “my interest in the Holocaust was a bit stronger and that helped me to make my decision to attend Keene State and its highly regarded undergraduate program. I thought I would someday work with museum collections, but this job has opened my eyes to the exhibit-production side of museums. I love my job; it is always hands-on and I never have a boring day.”

She credits her first academic adviser, Dr. Paul Vincent, and one of her favorite Keene State mentors, Michele Kuiawa, for helping to stoke her passion, for believing in her, and for being people in her life she can still lean on if needed.

“Dr. Vincent was my adviser early on and convinced me to go to a Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club meeting during my first couple of weeks at Keene. The sophomores that year really took me in and gave me a solid group of friends that I was able to grow up with during my time at Keene State.”

Madison held two officer positions as a member of the College’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club, president and secretary; served a term as president of Zeta Chi Rho, the Holocaust & Genocide Studies honor society; and also joined the German Club and History Club.

She credits getting involved as key to making the most of her education.

An independent nonprofit, the Spy Museum, which is cool in name alone, offers educational and cultural programs for students, adults, and families including scholarly lectures, films, book signings, hands-on workshops, and group tour packages, according to its website.

“I’m lucky,” Madison says. “I love the people I work with. As a younger person, it can be difficult to break into the museum world, but my team has been nothing but welcoming and supportive. It’s nice to know that I am around people who want me to succeed and who are excited about my accomplishments, whether that’s an installation of a new exhibit, or learning how to use a Sawzall for the first time. Because we are a small team, we do quite a bit of team bonding. That’s my only spy-related joke, I promise.”

One day, Madison says, she would love the opportunity to have the Director of Exhibit Production role at the Spy Museum. Like Keene State was for her as a student, her workplace is like home.

“My favorite part about Keene State is that it is a smaller school, which means that you’re able to make connections that last for years. The people that you meet on your freshman dorm floor could be the people that you live with every year and maybe stay in touch with for years after college.”

“Figure out what you like, meet people who like the same things as you, join some clubs or teams, and you’ll be alright.”

No secrets, no codes, she might say, just simple advice to help make a student’s dream come true.

To learn more about academic programs at Keene State, including Holocaust & genocide studies and art history, visit the Academic Program Pages.

Related Stories

Contact Keene State College

229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435