The true essence of the American Heritage Museum experience comes from our volunteers. These are veterans, history enthusiast and students. We are happy to announce several of our high school volunteers have recently graduated and heading off to college inspired by their volunteer work at the museum. We asked them some questions on what their interests are, what they learned while volunteering and their most fond memories. A big congratulations to our graduates! We wish them great success.
Name: Nicholas (Nick) Pace
High School: Tewksbury Memorial High School
Years at AHM: 2.5 months
College you’ll attend: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Intended Major (if known): Civil Engineering
Other hobbies and interests: I’m on my high school’s robotics team, I have a huge passion for video games such as War Thunder and Arma 3, Big into Sci-Fi such as Star Wars and Warhammer 40k, not to mention being a giant WWII history buff!
Why did you decide to volunteer at AHM?: When I heard about the volunteer opportunities provided by AHM, I was super excited to sign up! My mother had given me another internship opportunity at her firm, but before we could start there it fell through. Joining AHM was a no brainer at that point, and I haven’t regretted it since!
What have you gained from your volunteer experience?: So far I have gained the ability and confidence to give people tours and answer questions about the history behind many of our vehicles, equipment, and general history, as well as friendships with many of the volunteers here.
What is your best memory of your time at AHM: The best (and most recent) memory was being able to give my freshman world history teacher a personal tour of the museum as well as getting to see the awe in his eyes. Also seeing that my peers also have a giant passion for history (Literally for Liam), so much so that a few have went overseas to Bovington and other military museums across the country and world!
Name: Liam Walsh
High School: Grafton High School
Years at AHM: 1 year and 9 months(from August 2020)
College I’ll attend: Worcester State University
Intended Major: double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology, also enrolling in Army ROTC.
Other hobbies and interests: hiking, working out, and random history facts.
Why did you decide to volunteer at AHM?: When I first visited the museum, I was captivated by everything in sight. My love for history and military science naturally made me feel a special connection to the artifacts and exhibits at the museum. I hesitated at first, but my parents eventually talked me into trying something new and volunteering at the museum. I wanted to volunteer because I loved the thought of being able to share my knowledge of history with others – I even figured I might make some friends with the exact same interests as me. My expectations were exceeded in every measure. Not only did I learn so much, but I genuinely found a community of other volunteers that I wanted to spend my time with.
What have you gained from your volunteer experience?: My first instinct is to say that I have learned so much more about America’s past from all the time I have spent at the museum. However, this is probably the least significant thing I have gained from volunteering. What I am truly appreciative of from my volunteering experience is all the deep personal connections that I have cultivated with others as I approach almost 2 years here. You really do learn not just history lessons, but also life lessons from our veteran volunteers. I have made lifelong friends with the other younger volunteers, and I could not be more grateful for the community we have here.
What is your best memory of your time at AHM?: My favorite memory is definitely of the May 2021 Potluck volunteer gathering that the museum hosted. It was such a memorable experience to get a ride in the Chaffee with the other volunteers. Enjoying delicious food with a friendly community of volunteers surrounding me and receiving an award for appreciation of my volunteer service was just terrific – it was truly a great moment in my life.
Name: Sarah McDowell
High School: Hudson High School
Years at AHM: 2 1/2
College you’ll attend: University of Vermont
Intended Major (if known): History
Other hobbies and interests: Lacrosse, hiking, horseback riding, and of course researching history.
Why did you decide to volunteer at AHM?: I have always had a deep interest in history, studying certain time periods in depth whenever they interested me. Around the same time the AHM opened I became extremely interested in WWI and II, getting to know the equipment side of history by visiting the museum as often as possible. At 15 I decided to apply for a volunteer position and was lucky enough to get the job!
What have you gained from your volunteer experience?: I have enjoyed getting to experience working in a history museum, also learning more about the history itself while being there. I have also loved working with all the other amazing volunteers at the museum.
What is your best memory of your time at AHM (aside from meeting me, of course): I have two! My first volunteer get together in May of 2021 was such a fun experience. It was the first time I had been able to spend time with that many other volunteers and get to know everyone a little bit better. We also had the opportunity to drive and ride in a few of the tanks which, of course, was a great experience.
I have also loved meeting veterans, mainly those from WWII who are hard to come by nowadays. It has been especially meaningful to be able to speak with Alfred, who had the same role in his tank (the gunner’s position) as my grandfather who also served at that time. His stories are always the best and I love seeing how excited he is to share them.
High School: Acton-Boxborough Regional High School
Years at AHM: (almost) 1
College you’ll attend: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach
Intended Major (if known): BoS in Aeronautical Science
Other hobbies and interests: History (very broad, many aspects), Aviation, Marching percussion, Military Engineering
Why did you decide to volunteer at AHM?: My father and I had been to the AHM countless times due to my own interest in military history and his interest in cars. The museum was a great opportunity to get up close with tons of historical artifacts, meet plenty of new people with similar interests as mine, and most importantly grow and refine my own knowledge of history. I was also very worn out from the disappointment that was the 2020-21 hybrid class school year, so being able to stretch my legs and talk about my interests was a welcome change from being stuck inside all day participating in classes through a computer.
What have you gained from your volunteer experience?: I have learned tons of interesting, detailed knowledge about the areas of history we cover, widening and deepening my understanding of history. Being around and interacting with other docents has given me the opportunity to make plenty of wonderful, valuable friendships (including you, of course) that I cherish greatly. Working as a volunteer docent has also greatly helped my speaking skills, as I used to hate the idea of going up to people at random and speaking with them. It’s made me far more confident in myself and my abilities, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.
What is your best memory of your time at AHM (aside from meeting me, of course): While it’s difficult to narrow down a specific ‘best’ memory, as much of my best times here has been from talking with other volunteers, I would say it would be when I got to take my senior pictures in the Churchill VII and he let me wear a full uniform. It being my favorite tank in the collection, it was amazing to be able to go inside and get my pictures taken in full regalia.