Meet Our Student: Nika Faulkner

Nika is getting her graduate degree in historic preservation.

Where are you from?

Born in Santa Barbara, California, raised in Auburn, Maine.

Why did you choose Jefferson?

I chose Jefferson because of the unique preservation curriculum it offered, and for its location in East Falls, where I’d fallen in love with the historic architecture and the tightly knit community.

Tell us about your Historic Preservation internships. What have you learned?

I’ve interned with the City of Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Historic Commission and with Heritage Consulting Group in Chestnut Hill. While working with the city, I realized just how many historic properties that are significant to minority groups fall to the wayside when being considered for protection or celebration. I also learned that working as a public servant in the realm of preservation means that your duty is first and foremost to the community and to facilitating productive discussion concerning the cultural resources that belong to them. Preservation shouldn’t prevent change, but instead weave important elements of the past into our visions for a productive and inclusive future.

What else are wyou working on?

I’m currently working on my thesis concerning historic preservation in Native American contexts, an example where value systems differ greatly from that of mainstream America. This project has expanded my process for identifying significance and allowed me to celebrate my own Ojibwe heritage alongside my professional interests.

What is the best part of your studies?

The best part of my studies are the connections I’ve made with professors and classmates. They’ve all been amazing advocates and have made me feel confident in my choice to invest in a master’s degree.

What’s something people would be surprised to find out about you?

Pursuing preservation was a pivot in my career - I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Pratt Institute in 2016, which kickstarted my interest in material culture. I wasn’t even aware of preservation until I began grad school research. Discovering preservation was an epiphany moment for me.