Fellowship Enables Pursuit of Passion
Three years after completing her undergraduate studies, Holly Wiencek, CAS/MA ’16, determined that studying United States postal workers’ experiences was her true, albeit unique, passion. Initially attending American University as a part-time graduate student while working in web management at the National Building Museum, Wiencek enrolled fulltime in her second semester after receiving the Harvey C. and Sarah M. Moore Fellowship. This has allowed her to fully immerse herself in her studies, focus on opportunities better aligned with her goals and passions, and accelerated her progress towards receiving her degree this spring.
The Moore Fellowship was established in 1993 by Harvey C. and Sarah M. Moore to provide scholarship support to deserving graduate students studying anthropology. Dr. Harvey Moore served as a Professor and Chair in the Department of Anthropology at American University. This endowed fund was established during the Moores’ lifetimes and supplemented by generous gift through Sarah’s estate. Wiencek noted that the availability of a fellowship specifically for anthropology made American University stand out when she was considering different programs.
Wiencek first developed an interest in the Postal Service while interning at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and working on a project to document the extracurricular lives of postal workers. She later wrote an undergrad thesis in anthropology on the topic at Bryn Mawr College. After achieving a professional goal of working for a museum, she discovered that pursuing her research area had developed into her true passion. Through her studies she is now seeking to answer the question “Why is the USPS failing economically and what does that mean for American culture?”
Wiencek has found that postal workers are an insular community that often socialize together outside of work, forming bowling teams, bands, and other groups. She also notes that a 2006 law passed by Congress that requires the Postal Service to fully fund all pensions and health benefits for workers 75 years into the future, likely intended to garner public support to privatize the Postal Service, has had a deteriorating effect on the labor force. Wiencek hopes to become involved in advocacy for postal worker labor rights following graduation. “As I approach graduation from AU, I feel prepared to begin a fulfilling career advocating for social justice and reform” Wiencek asserts.