Susan Fletcher became a historian thanks to a high school teacher. Two decades later, the 36-year-old Colorado Springs native has crisscrossed the country pursuing that dream.
Fletcher now works for The Navigators, an international Christian outreach ministry based at Glen Eyrie. She spoke to the Business Journal this week about history, faith and how the two intersect.
What’s your background?
I grew up here in Colorado Springs — over off Austin Bluffs and Academy. … I went to Palmer High School. One of my high school history teachers was very influential in my becoming a historian. He introduced us to the idea that history is not just a series of dates and events — it is the whole story of the human experience, and it can be interpreted in so many different ways. So I decided to go to Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, where I majored in history and minored in museum studies and anthropology. My master’s degree is from Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis, and it is in public history.
What was your first job?
When I graduated with my bachelor’s, I went straight to grad school. But as an undergrad, I was home for the summers and had interned at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry and was a docent at the McAllister House museum, so I knew that I loved the museum field and that was what I wanted to do. … Once I graduated with my master’s, it was kind of a different story. I initially had a hard time finding a job and ended up moving to Cleveland, Tenn., where I was hired to be the archivist for Lee University.
How did you end up working for The Navigators?
I knew who The Navigators were from growing up in Colorado Springs, and I had read “The Message” Bible … but I was never involved with them. … When I was in Tennessee, I came home for a visit in September 2007 and wanted to do something special with my mom, so we made reservations to have tea at Glen Eyrie. Just for kicks, I looked at The Navigators job listings on their website … and, to my surprise, there was one for an archivist position. So I thought about it, prayed about it and decided to go for it. The day after I turned that application in, my mom called and told me she had an aortic aneurism and needed emergency open-heart surgery. When I went home that night, I also had a message from the hiring manager who wanted to interview me for this job. So I ended up coming home and everything worked out: I got the job and my mom turned out fine.
Has your position changed?
I think the mission when I first came on was to preserve the voices of some of the senior staff members who were dying. The Navigators was formed in 1933 as an organization that primarily ministered to sailors in the Navy … and around our 75th anniversary there was this realization that we were losing a lot of our founders and a lot of our institutional memory. Since then, my role has definitely expanded. It’s a lot more than just working with the archives; I also do a lot of exhibit work, programs and writing.
What can the Springs do for young professionals?
This is a great city for young professionals, but I certainly wish we had more people our age here — and I think that we could do more as a city to attract young professionals. At least we have a good community of them here, even if it is small. I have lots of friends, and there is always something to do. It’s better than Cleveland, Tenn.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’m pretty involved in the arts community and am part of the Modbo family and take classes there. … So I have that crowd, I have the Via Affirmativa crowd, [a community of Christian artists and art supporters]. I like taking hikes, and I love photography. I’m also in the process of creating my own adult coloring book about Colorado Springs.
What are some of your goals?
I eventually want to get my Ph.D. I would eventually like to teach in a public history program … and have thought about being more involved in the academic world. I would also love the chance to one day be the director of a museum.