Rackham Public Engagement Fellow 2021: Pau Nava

September 1, 2021

Pau Nava (they/them) was the 2021 Rackham Public Engagement Fellow hosted by the University of Michigan Library Digital Scholarship (DS) team. This initiative is part of the The Rackham Public Engagement Internship Program which offers summer fellowships for graduate students interested in pursuing public facing projects at various partner institutions within the University and beyond. Pau is a PhD Candidate in the University of Michigan’s department of American Culture. Their research focuses on Midwest Latinx art networks, and includes Latinx Digital Humanities projects such as the Chicana por mi raza (CPMR) digital memory project and the new digital tool Rhizomes of Mexican American Art Since 1848.  

What brought you to apply to work with the Digital Scholarship team?

I attended my first DS workshop back in October 2020. This was the first time I attended a workshop with a land acknowledgement that spoke to the legacy of colonialism embedded in the digital technologies we use to pursue digital projects. I met the DS team there and thought, these are really cool people! It was refreshing to hear from a group of professionals supporting digital projects with an emphasis on antiracism, ethical labor practices, accessibility and transparency. As part of this team I got a lot of behind the scenes exposure to different examples of digital project stages and outcomes. In choosing this experience, ultimately, I wanted an experience with room for career mentorship in Libraries as well as learning new digital tools for both my teaching portfolio and dissertation.  

What kind of projects did you work on as part of this Fellowship?

This role was very flexible in terms of what I could get involved with. I got to learn a little bit of everything from using Wikipedia in the classroom, creating digital exhibitions and starting some research to help support the creation of a mission statement for producing ethical exhibitions online. My biggest contribution was the research I did to support a Digital Scholarship certificate program for graduate students that will be piloted this fall. 

Since you are the first Rackham Public Engagement Fellow the Digital Scholarship Team has had, do you have any tips for the next intern?

Part of this experience is meant to expose students to career development opportunities and I think being clear about your interests is key. Since the experience was virtual, I do think it's also important to communicate if you need help or have never done something before and need some guidance. 

Any big takeaways from this experience?

Attending various library zoom meetings exposed me to different facilitation styles and ways to use meetings effectively for working on collaborative projects. I also got a lot out of meeting with Matt Carruthers to talk about Metadata for a CPMR project I was wrapping up. Metadata is something I learned about as part of CPMR but had never really thought about as a skillset I’d trained in. I even ended up joining the new Trans Metadata Collective!