Michelle Obama honors museum studies alumna

UMSL museum studies alumna Elizabeth Pickard (right) hugs first lady Michelle Obama after accepting the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award at a White House ceremony on Nov. 10. (Photo by Steven E. Purcell)

A hug from first lady Michelle Obama and an award made Nov. 10 a good day for Elizabeth Pickard, MA museum studies 2007.

At a White House ceremony, the University of Missouri–St. Louis alumna accepted the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award on behalf of the Missouri History Museum’s Teens Make History, a program she founded.

“Receiving this honor from the first lady means so much to all those who have worked so hard on the Teens Make History program,” said Pickard, director of interpretive programs for the Missouri History Museum. “We began this program with the desire to make a lasting impact in a kid’s life beyond the school hours, particularly for at-risk youth. We wanted to bring together young people from across the region and with diverse backgrounds, and challenge them to rise above their expectations for themselves.”

Pickard jointly accepted the honor with Amesha Payne, a current Teens Make History student who attends the Carnahan School of the Future in St. Louis.

Pickard founded the Teens Make History for the Missouri History Museum in 2007. The work-based learning program encourages high school students to develop key professional skills, build self-confidence and explore the complexities of history. Students must first complete an eight-week museum studies workshop before they can apply for one of the paid, long-term apprenticeships at the museum. Participants complete real work projects.

Teens Make History was one of 12 after-school programs chosen from across the country for the prestigious honor. The awardees were chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists.

The award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates and college enrollment.

In addition to being recognized by the White House, the program will receive $10,000 and a year of communications and capacity-building support from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.


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