PARK RANGER TO MOB MUSEUM CURATOR: IN PURSUIT OF HISTORY

This feature was first published in Journeys Winter 2018.

This article was written by Kinjal Shah.

“I was a curiosity and anomaly. I didn’t understand any pop culture references. I didn’t drive. I didn’t know anything that was popular on television and six years in uniform had given me zero fashion sense and a strong aversion to navy pants.” 

For Carol Ann Fisher (Class of 2003), it was a much bigger culture shock moving back to America at 18 than it had been adjusting to Asia at 12. Moving from Singapore American School to Appalachian State University in the mountains of North Carolina wasn’t easy, but eventually, she found her place by jumping into extracurriculars, community service planning, and even a sorority. 

Fisher attended SAS from 1998 through 2003 when she graduated. Painfully shy, she was unsure what to make of enthusiastic and welcoming seventh graders when she first started at SAS. Social challenges were one thing. Going from a state history class to world geography as a social studies focus meant she had to immediately expand her worldview and learn a lot in order to keep pace with peers. Dabbling in dance and service opportunities kept her busy and excited and it wasn't long before Fisher came to love her new home away from home. “I loved going to SAS,” says Fisher. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime and the best memories I have are those from Interim Semester where I got to travel around the world with my friends. Each trip has a special place in my heart.” 

Through all of those experiences, it is the extraordinary care from her teachers that still tugs at her heartstrings. With Mr. Berg as her homebase teacher for four years, Fisher always had a safe place and a kind word on bad mornings. Ms. Gould made dance club fun; Ms. Bumble helped organize her life and priorities as a struggling freshman, and; Ms. Began helped her see that there is more to science than formulas and math. 

Even so, at Appalachian State University, Fisher spent hours combing through course catalogs, finally deciding on Public History as her major. It was here that she fell in love with all things ancient! The thrill of going behind-the-scenes at historic houses and museums; the desire to know what was behind the doors they don’t open on guided tours; those secrets no one hears about; and the places the public doesn’t get to see. Top that with an opportunity to experience firsthand a new acquisition before anyone else, and Fisher was sold! “Artifacts make history come to life. They are the tangible reminders that the stories we read and the subjects we study are more than words on a page.”

After cultivating a larger global world view at SAS, Fisher wasn’t afraid to move across the country and try somewhere new. She dabbled as an Interpretation (education) Park Ranger with National Parks Service before deciding to stick to behind-the-scenes work. There are 417 National Park Service sites and most of them have extensive museum collections filled with historic artifacts and natural history wonders. Fisher traveled all over the country taking seasonal jobs wherever there was funding and ended up working for seven parks over five years. Fisher recalls, “Living overseas had given me an appreciation for travel and adventure and when I came back to America I didn't really feel American until I could explore every corner of the country and culture I now called home.”

Coincidentally, or not, Carol Ann met Brook Fisher, another ranger through mutual friends, and they were married in the Zion National Park campground. Even today, getting away to camp in a park is a go-to family vacation in the Fisher household. She has two boys, four-year old Teddy and one-year old Benji, who already love to camp and explore museums.

Currently, Fisher lives in Las Vegas and is a curator at The Mob Museum (National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement) since it first opened its doors in 2012. Her role is focused on artifact collections. Her time is spent caring for the intellectual and physical aspects of the artifacts, preparing loan and donation agreements, performing condition assessments, or cleaning things very meticulously (think tiny expensive goat hair brushes)! She also tracks and stores everything in a way that will preserve it for future generations to study and enjoy—worrying about temperature, light, humidity, and other conditions that may impact the exhibits.

Fisher encourages students interested in history as a subject to pursue it wholeheartedly! “I’ve never lacked a job offer in the field since I graduated college.” However, she is careful to emphasize the value of volunteer work and internships. “When it comes time to hiring people, I care far more about those experiences than degrees and where you got them.”

  • alumni
  • class of 2003
  • curator
  • mob museum

Recent Posts

by Aria R. and Lorelei R.

Selected seventh and eighth grade choir students were invited to perform at the Australia National Choral Association Choralfest Conference in Fremantle, Western Australia. There is no other event quite like it which draws in so many sectors of the choral community—teachers, educators, university lecturers and conductors, singers, composers, choir managers, and committee members.

by Dr. Jeff Devens

In this three-part series, high school psychologist Dr. Jeff Devens shares how parents can help their children settle in as they transition into a new culture, school, and country.

Didi Hari Krishnan

In order for a child to learn, the mind and body must work together. This is why a perceptual motor program is important in the early years. The perceptual motor program at SAS focuses on developing the whole child, physically, cognitively, and social emotionally. It also offers a transdisciplinary experience and encourages the core values of compassion, honesty, fairness, respect, and responsibility.