Hayes takes historic job

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 8, 2010

NATCHEZ — As a history major, Ylani Hayes couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend her summer cataloguing the Natchez National Historical Park Museum’s items.

It also didn’t hurt that this internship brought the 18-year-old Jackson State University student home to Natchez for the summer, Hayes said.

“You get to get up close and personal with historic items,” Hayes said. “We are making sure the items are still there and in good condition.

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“I wanted to have a chance to become more knowledgeable about the history of our city, and this internship gave me the opportunity to do so.”

Hayes and fellow intern Kimberly Whalen of Jackson are participating in the 10-week paid internship with the museum. Museum Curator Cheryl Munyer said Hayes was selected out of 27 applicants for the curatorial internship.

“We are glad she is here,” Munyer said of Hayes. “She has done a fantastic job so far. They have catalogued the controlled inventory, which have to be catalogued every year.”

There are 1,127 items in the controlled inventory, including chairs, sofas, documents and other items that were original to the houses or time period, and now the interns will move on to catalogue a random sample of the museum’s total 31,057 pieces.

Hayes said of the 1,127 items, only two napkins came up missing. The napkins, which are supposed to be in Melrose, are not original to the house but are from the early 1800s.

“It is the case of the missing napkin,” she said. “We can’t find them, but we are still looking.”

Once she finishes up her internship, Hayes said she is looking forward to returning to Jackson State University as a sophomore.

“I am excited to go back,” she said. “I am most looking forward to the history of Mississippi course.

“It is a once a week course, and it should be interesting.”

Hayes said she chose JSU because it is a great historically black college with quality programs. When choosing between universities, the fact that Jackson State offered Hayes a full scholarship made the decision a little easier.

“I think they offered me the scholarship because I was valedictorian of my class,” Hayes said. “I graduated with a 4.0 at Natchez High School.”

Fitting in at JSU after spending her whole life in Natchez wasn’t so tough, Hayes said.

“I love it,” she said. “I adapted pretty well and didn’t have a long transition period. I guess it was my personality that allows me to adjust so quickly.

“I am a part of the group Tiger P.R.I.D.E., which is a student recruitment group, the honor society, and I’m in the interfaith gospel choir.”

Once she graduates from JSU, Hayes said she plans to attend law school.

“I didn’t really want to teach, so I was wondering what I would do with a history degree when I followed my heart and switched from a psychology degree last summer,” Hayes said. “I learned that a history degree goes really well with a law degree.

“The more I got into it, the more excited I got.”

Hayes’ parents are Zelda Hayes Smith and L.T. Smith.