Jones County alumna interning at popular museum

jmink@macon.comJuly 4, 2013 

Jones County High School graduate Mercedes Shannon works in the same area at the Smithsonian where the Lockheed Electra her grandfather flew while in the U.S. Air Force sits.

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Mercedes Shannon knew her grandfather flew with the United States Air Force. She knew his Lockheed Electra sits in the Smithsonian.

But she never dreamed she would be working at the Smithsonian in the same area where her grandfather’s plane sits. Now, the Jones County High School graduate is one of a handful of interns at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

“I actually wasn’t expecting it,” Shannon said about the internship. “Then, I got the phone call.”

Shannon’s instructors at Georgia Tech, where she’s a junior, suggested that she apply for the internship, and Shannon knew she wanted to work with the air and space department.

She grew up with an interest in aviation and space, mainly because of her grandfather’s history.

The 20-year-old had been home on summer break for three days when she learned she had been accepted into the 10-week internship program. Her parents were gone, but her brother was at home when she got the news.

“I pretty much ran screaming and jumping into him,” she said.

The internship program is very competitive -- officials receive about 400 applications each year, Myra Banks-Scott, internship coordinator, said in an email.

“Our researchers and staff mentor the next generation of students who could possibly work here in the future,” she said.

A business administration major, Shannon can see herself one day working for a place like the Smithsonian. She has taken part in other internships, where she has learned what she does not like to do professionally. At the Smithsonian, she has learned what she likes to do, she said.

Shannon helps with the museum’s Wall of Honor, sifting through applications for names on the wall. She analyzes the museum’s member benefits and has set up a Facebook page for new members.

She also helps put together the museum’s corporate sponsor reports.

“I absolutely have to have the people interaction,” Shannon said. “And, as interns, we’re encouraged to share our ideas.”

Now, she is trying to reach out to children through the Smithsonian. Shannon is working to establish a junior air and space society within the museum.

“It’s to get more children involved in the museum and continue to foster that love of aviation,” she said. “I would definitely enjoy working at some place like the Smithsonian.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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