Alexandra Marshall (right) speaks with employees of the Museum of Science and Industry: Leila Makdisi (right), Education Coordinator, Student Experience, and Jeff Buonomo, Temporary Exhibits.
By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications
It was Alexandra Marshall’s first trip to the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago. It wasn’t just your average touristy trip to a museum. It was more like the 2006 movie “A Night at the Museum,” with behind-the-scenes tours and one-on-one conversations with the people who work there.
The Scecina senior and her parents spent two full days in June at the museum, which bills itself as “the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere.” This experience is a yearly opportunity available exclusively to Scecina’s seniors and juniors, thanks to James Drury, a 1960 Scecina graduate who is on the museum’s board of directors. Chosen students have an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) or museum careers.
Related Story: Scecina alumnus James Drury creates museum partnership to spark students’ interest in science and technology
Alexandra, who went to St. Simon Catholic School, loves science. She started the school’s environmental club, Red and Gold Going Green. In the classroom at Scecina, she has taken Honors Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Advanced Science Vertebrate Zoology/ACP Geology. This year she has a packed schedule: AP Pre-Calculus, AP Spanish, AP Literature and Composition, ACP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Government and Politics, Catholic Theology and independent study of Critical Thinking.
Alexandra called it an “irresistible opportunity” to visit MSI (www.msichicago.org). She applied immediately upon learning about it and was chosen for the trip. The first day at MSI, she and her parents explored various exhibits. “I didn’t have one favorite exhibit because there were so many cool ones!” she said. “I especially enjoyed the Henry Crown Space Center, The Science Behind Pixar, the coal mine, and the U-505 tour (a World War II German submarine).”
The museum also provided tickets to watch three movies that are showing there: “Oceans,” “The Story of Earth,” and “Tornado Alley.”
Behind the scenes on the first day, an employee with museum’s education department discussed with her his journey from college to his current position. The next day was packed with even more one-on-one conversations, she said.
“Each individual had a different perspective and different advice, but they all shared a love for MSI and what they do,” she said. “I spoke with many employees from a range of departments, such as education, fundraising, curating, design and development. I enjoyed speaking to every one of them. They all made my trip memorable.” She learned about careers she didn’t even know existed.
Alexandra said she was thankful for all of the museum employees who took time out to talk with her. “Thank you for wonderful two days. I learned a lot about myself, my future, career options and science”
She also thanked Scecina science teacher Mrs. Sarah Smith “for selecting me, always believing in me and fostering my dreams and love of science.”
“As I approach my senior year at Scecina, I will keep in mind the staff that I met at MSI,” she said. “This trip has helped shape my future.”
Alexandra, who also is a cheerleader and plays softball, plans to apply to the University of Notre Dame, Butler University and Purdue University.
Alexandra has some advice for younger Crusaders who are interested in science, so listen up: “If offered this opportunity,” she said, “Go for it!”
The following MSI employees met and spoke with Alexandra:
- John Beckman, Director, Exhibit Design and Development
- Jeff Buonomo, Manager, Temporary Exhibits and Events
- Jason Dupuis, Manager of Student Experiences
- Leila Makdisi, Education Coordinator, Student Experiences
- Gil Perez, Director of Film and Guest Operations
- Voula Saridakis, Ph.D., Curator, Collections
- Patty Ward, Ph.D., Director, Science Exhibitions and Partnerships