Annette D. Amerman ’97 instantly fell in love with Shenandoah University after taking a tour of the campus. “I am from a very small town and Shenandoah was the right size,” said Amerman. “The classes weren’t overwhelmingly large and the professors weren’t so numerous that they would forget my name.” During her time at Shenandoah, Amerman remembers spending a lot of time between classes in the commuter lounge with her fellow history and English majors, talking, laughing and helping one another. Their professors would often walk through the commuter lounge, so the students had the opportunity to have less formal exchanges with them, creating more personal relationships. Amerman says while the university has grown leaps and bounds since she attended, it’s still that small school with a personal touch that she fell in love with 25 years ago.
With a year or so left before graduation, Amerman decided to change her career path, and with the help of the former Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Catherine Tisinger, she was able to do it with ease. “Dr. Catherine Tisinger was the driving force behind me, encouraging me and stretching my abilities,” said Amerman. “I’m not a brilliant person, but she could see my passion and desire to be a historian; she made it possible for me to become what I wanted.” Tisinger told Amerman to find an internship because it would help her focus on what she wanted to do for a career. So, Amerman found an internship with the then Marine Corps Historical Foundation, which started her on the path to her current job.
Now 23 years later, that former intern is the branch head for the office she started in so long ago. And, Amerman says if it weren’t for the mentorship of Tisinger and her encouragement, she wouldn’t have gone the route that she did. Amerman is the head of the historical reference branch at the Marine Corps History Division for the U.S. Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. In this position, her primary function is to answer requests for historical information. She receives requests from around the globe from the commandant of the Marine Corps to privates first class, academia to grade school, veterans and their families to those just interested in the Corps’ history.
Amerman says it’s difficult to decide what is the most rewarding experience of her career, but one does stand out. “I helped a Vietnam vet who was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and couldn’t remember his best friend’s full name, even though the Marine died in his arms,” said Amerman. “I found the name and the veteran was able to have catharsis and closure on an event that changed his life forever. Helping the veterans and active duty Marines is VERY rewarding.”
Amerman also recently received the Simmons-Shaw Award for Public History by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for her work on commemorating Marines in World War I through her book and work on the WWI Symposium.
Amerman’s advice to students is: “Get experience. Volunteer, intern, take entry level jobs…doesn’t matter. Work! Get the experience and when you do, work hard! Show them that you can be counted upon, trusted and willing to learn.”