History major Nia Roberts is the kind of person that looks for adventure — and when Cheryl Golden, Ph.D., professor of history, told Roberts about one particular opportunity, she knew she was the one for the job.
The opportunity Golden presented was an internship in the archives of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) Wichita Center that sits just south of the Newman campus.
The partnership between Newman University and the ASC dates back to the beginning of the university, when the ASC founded Sacred Heart Junior College. The ASC still sponsor the university, offering support financially, physically and prayerfully.
Sister Edwina Pope, U.S. regional archivist for the ASC, said having Roberts on board is a delight and welcome addition to her daily routine.
“The (archives) office is always a work in progress,” said Pope. “We’re always getting new things in that need to be worked on and are getting new things in all the time.”
Pope is also a graduate of the university.
“I graduated from Kansas Newman in 1973 and worked in the library for 24 years. I entered the ASC in 1976. I knew I was supposed to be a sister long before I knew there were sisters,” said Pope. “I also knew, when I walked into community all those years ago, that one day I would end up being an archivist — I just had that inkling. And it was part of my training.”
That inkling became reality in 2009 when Pope took on her current role as archivist at the ASC Wichita Center.
Pope explained that with only two ASC archive offices in the U.S., their typical day is simply to “come in and dig in. We just do what needs to be done — and there is always something to be done.”
Roberts said that is exactly why she loves the job.
“I liked that it was archival work and it would be a variety of different things,” said Roberts. “I thought that would be interesting because I didn’t want to be doing the same thing every day. With this job, one day I’m an archaeologist and the next day I’m a detective. It’s never boring and the time goes by so fast because we’re always doing something different and I really enjoy that.”
The pair explained they have built a strong connection since they began working together at the beginning of the fall semester. Pope said she knows she can trust Roberts to always work hard, and Roberts said she can count on learning something new from Pope every week.
“We have good energy — we even finish each other’s sentences,” said Roberts. “We just bounce off each other and she’s a really good leader. I can really listen to her and learn from her — she gives me all kinds of pointers and is very encouraging. I love letting her lead and just soaking everything in.”
Pope said, “Nia is full of spunk — I love the energy she brings to the office every day. I also like that I can trust her while I’m out of the office.
“I had to take a trip to Kentucky for a meeting and I left her for almost two weeks,” continued Pope. “She did exactly what I gave her to do and more. When the (Heimerman) science building closed, I brought over all the rocks that were collected by some of the sisters and I left them for Nia to categorize and label. She wasn’t sure she could do it, but when I got home, I was sure surprised. She labeled two bookcases full of rocks.”
Roberts said the rock project made her nervous, but Pope showed a great deal of confidence in her and that made her want to do the job and do it well.
“One thing I’ve learned from sister is to have attention to detail,” said Roberts. “I’m sometimes hard on myself, so when I saw these hundreds of rocks, I just thought, ‘There’s no way I can do all this.’ I didn’t want to make any mistakes because there is so much detail.
“I didn’t want to disappoint, so I just really paid attention to detail and how I was organizing everything. I used a lot of Google in those two weeks,” she added with a laugh.
Working on the project was not only an archival job-related learning experience but a personal one as well.
“After I finished what I’d set out to do, I realized that Sister Edwina has taught me something else,” explained Roberts. “She didn’t just give me a big box of rocks and say, ‘Here, have at it,’ she also explained to me where the rocks came from, their history at Newman, and why it was important that we catalog them. That became an important lesson, to understand the reason behind why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
After Roberts graduates, she wants to begin a new adventure in the sport of basketball.
“I plan on playing overseas, explained Roberts. “I’ve been talking to a lot of agents, and right now I’m not sure where I’ll be. I’ve started the process of recruitment again. But if I don’t get added to a team, I’m from Dallas, and I have connections there so that I can just coach and teach.
“Basketball is my passion and my goal is to play. But in the future, coaching will be at the forefront of my career plan. And since I want to coach high school, most likely I will need to teach, too, so that’s where they history major will come in.”
Roberts said she has never been outside of the country and that is why she chose to work toward being an international player.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Spain, so I’m hoping for a team there. But anywhere I end up will be amazing.”
If she ends up in Spain, she said she knows there are ASC sisters that reside there, too, and might one day visit.
“The sisters are all over the world — that’s one of the things I learned really quickly. I might be too shy to go visit them if I end up somewhere they are, too. But maybe that’s something I can work on because that’s always a good connection to have. I don’t want to close that door, that’s for sure.”