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Alumni Spotlight: Steve Preston ('13)

"I really only worked with two professors, and I hold them both in very high esteem for making me a well-rounded museum employee. I am forever grateful to them both."

By Lizzie Kibler ('16) | Photography provided | Published July 2020
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Steve Preston at his quarterly “Hearth Dinners” event where he cooks 18th and early 19th century foods in their 1804 kitchen for the public. The most popular and requested dish is the beef steak pie from the 1790s.

HOMETOWN: Indianapolis, Indiana
GRADUATE PROGRAM: Master of Arts in Public History
CURRENT JOB: Education Director for Heritage Village Museum & Educational Center Historic Southwest Ohio, Inc.

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a hog farm in rural Indiana.

Did you attend NKU for your undergraduate degree(s)? If so, what year did you graduate?
B.S. History, Manchester College.

Why did you choose NKU for graduate school? Is there something about your program or the university that stood out to you?
It was close to home and a chance to obtain graduate degree in my chosen field.

Can you tell me a little about your graduate work?
I was taught best practices for conservation, exhibition, research, administration and publishing in regards to museums and historical sites.

What is your most memorable graduate class or project? Why?
I have two memorable classes. Working with Dr. Hackett to do a complete operational overhaul of a small museum.  We learned how museum team members work together to overcome obstacles and how all museum work is “hand-on.” The other is researching and writing the history of Newport, Kentucky, under the guidance of Dr. Tenkotte.  I was able to research and write with feedback from class peers I learned important editing and publishing practices under Dr. Tenkotte’s guidance.

Tell me about your favorite graduate professor and why.
I really only worked with two professors, and I hold them both in very high esteem for making me a well-rounded museum employee.  Dr. Hackett was instrumental in instilling in me the importance of conservation, administration and material culture identification.  Dr. Tenkotte allowed me to hone my skills in historical writing, research and publishing.  I am forever grateful to them both.

What has been your most challenging experience as a graduate student?
Working with a small museum site that needed a total overhaul of its operation.

What do you hope to do with your graduate degree? How will your degree help you further your career?
My degree allowed me to continue as the education director for Historic Southwest Ohio Inc.

What is your greatest passion?
Native American and settler relations in the Ohio Valley, 1700-1814.

Describe NKU in one word.
Community.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about attending NKU?
It is a centrally located university that is unified by its commitment to excellence and learning.

Tell me anything else about yourself and/or NKU that you want folks to know.
I’m usually reading historical research or playing catch with my son, Declan.

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