| in GRS, Students

Preservation recent grad

Alise Perault

Hometown: Columbus, Nebraska

Program: MA in Preservation Studies

Graduation Year: December 2020

Why did you choose to come to BU for your graduate degree?

I knew I wanted to attend Boston University from the moment I discovered the university’s Preservation Studies program online. I thought there could be no better place to learn about preservation than in one of the nation’s oldest and most historically rich cities. In addition, the program offered a concentration in museum practice, which catered perfectly to my interest in working at historic house museums. My decision to attend BU was clinched by my visit to campus. All the staff, faculty, and students made me feel like I was a part of a family before they even knew if I would accept their offer letter!

What were your favorite spots on the BU campus and in Boston?

My favorite spot on campus before the pandemic was the Think Tank in the CAS building. For some reason, I could always focus better there surrounded by other students.

I hesitate to call it my favorite spot in Boston, but I did a lot of research on Boston’s Great Molasses Flood of 1919, and I spent a lot of time in the area where it happened contemplating the disaster. The site of the molasses tank explosion that killed 21 people is located in the area that is now Langone Park and Puopolo Playground, which sits along Commercial Street in the North End. The park is currently under construction, but when improvements are complete, the Harborwalk will feature a new interpretive sign commemorating the event. On a lighter note, the Café Brazil Bakery in Allston will also always hold a special place in my heart. They have the best espresso and fresh cashew juice.

What were you involved in on campus or in Boston, aside from your coursework?

I participated in the American and New England Studies Program’s Grad Student Association, and was elected to the position of preservation studies liaison in my third and final semester of grad school.

What is one unique opportunity you have had because of your choice to study at BU?

I honestly wouldn’t have the job I have today if it weren’t for my choice to study at BU. As part of my program, I was required to complete an internship that was relevant to my field of study and desired career. While visiting the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska, for the first time over winter break of 2019, I happened to mention the need for an internship as part of my program to the right person. I ended up working remotely over the summer of 2020, performing research for the NWCC’s education department. When the position of program associate opened up in November of that year, my internship supervisor contacted me to encourage me to apply. I interviewed, got the job, and started just about a month after completing classes in December. I hadn’t planned to return to Nebraska after grad school, but with the connections I had made at the NWCC through my internship, and the perfect timing of it all, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

What are you doing now that you have graduated? 

I am currently living the dream working as the program associate for the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska. The Willa Cather Foundation owns and preserves the largest collection of nationally designated historic sites devoted to an American author. Willa Cather wrote twelve novels, including the Pulitzer prize-winning One of Ours; her most famous being My Ántonia, which uses many of the people she knew when she lived in Red Cloud as prototypes for the book’s characters. As program associate, I lead tours of the historic sites associated with Willa Cather’s life and writing, coordinate programming for our Red Cloud Opera House, curate exhibits for our gallery, and help to organize our annual spring conference and biannual international seminar. Willa Cather is buried next to her partner, Edith Lewis, in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, which is just an hour and a half drive from Boston!