UHCL, NASA Alumni League launch Human Space Flight archive internship endowment

June 23, 2020 | UHCL Staff

NASA Library Internship endowment check
NASA Alumni League JSC Chapter members presented an endowment check to UHCL. From left, NASA NAL representative Cyndi Draughon, UHCL Associate Director of Development for University Advancement Richard Zalesak, NASA NAL representatives Denny Holt and Mark Scroggins, NASA NAL representative Sylvia Stottlemyer. Front holding the check: Neumann Library Executive Director Dr. Vivienne McClendon, NASA NAL representative Greg Blackburn. 

Although it’s been a serious challenge for college students to find paid internships given the closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NASA Alumni League Johnson Space Center Chapter and University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Alfred R. Neumann Library have a solution. Together, they have created an internship opportunity that will offer a student an out-of-this-world experience.

Greg Blackburn, a representative of the NASA Alumni League JSC chapter, said he’d started doing volunteer work in the archives at UH-Clear Lake to help with the donations that JSC employees made. “There’s a tremendous backlog,” he said. “There is so much that needs to be processed so that researchers have it available to do their work. We recruited some NAL-JSC volunteers to augment the resources at the library, but late last year we had the idea that we would like to have someone who’s always working on that backlog. We thought, what if we could get an intern?”

After exploring the idea with Neumann Library Executive Director Vivienne McClendon, the NAL found it could offer $1,000 a semester to attract an intern to come and help. “She said that if you had an endowment minimum of $25,000 it would pay for the intern itself forever, and we thought that was a really interesting idea,” Blackburn said.

Blackburn’s fellow board members liked the idea and with the help of UHCL’s University Advancement team, the endowment was structured. “We have a 5-year goal of fundraising $25,000 to pay for the endowment to keep an intern to help maintain the archive for the JSC collection.”

McClendon said the collaboration with the NAL was critical for the campus and the region. “They help us gather and maintain the archives, grow them, and then create the energy in the community around the archives and our partnership with NASA,” she said. “This will extend and enrich that partnership by putting an intern in direct contact with the members of the NAL who volunteer in our archive working on the Human Space Flight Collection.”

She added that almost weekly, the archive receives calls from around the world from researchers and authors who require documents from the collection. “This collection is really a national treasure and contributes internationally to those who want to know about the development that occurred in our human space flight program,” she said. “With recent renewed interest in human space flight, this internship is critical for us to ensure the archive is used and appreciated.”

On June 22, the NAL donated a kickoff amount of $2,200, with $200 added to the endowment fund bringing that total to $1,000. The rest of those funds, $2,000, is earmarked for a UHCL intern to work in the archive in the fall and spring semesters of the 2020-21 academic year.

Learn more about UHCL’s Archives and Special Collections online.