May 28, 2024

Mesa College Museum Studies Student to Intern with Smithsonian Institution this Summer

Jake Selters will work at the National Museum of the American Indian

By Emma Rodriguez


For 12 weeks over the fall, one of San Diego Mesa College’s graduating Museum Studies students will embark on a new adventure as a Latino Museum Studies Intern at the Smithsonian. Jake Selters will work from Aug. 26 to Nov. 15, 2024, at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington D.C. and study Collections Management with some of the world’s preeminent experts.

“My interest in museums started as a little kid when my parents used to take my sister and I down to Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif.,” Jake said. “I always marveled at the vast size and variations of the museums we went to. I was very grateful for my parents introducing me to the art and museum world because it always stuck with me.”

While at the NMAI, Jake will learn about museum and cultural standards of preservation, collection storage techniques, and facilitating community engagement. He also will have the opportunity to participate in an annual inventory of NMAI’s 266,000 objects, including items from archeology, ethnography, and contemporary native art. This process requires incredible expertise and talent, as it involves checking the condition of valuable, sensitive, and historically significant items. Jake also will collaborate on the installation the museum’s upcoming exhibit Sublime Light: Tapestry Art of DY Begay.

Jake entered Mesa College to pursue a career as a physical therapist. After two years, he decided to switch his path to Museum Studies in order to follow his true passions. He graduated this month with a Certificate of Performance in Museum Studies.

“The thing I love most about Mesa is the people that I’ve met, both classmates and staff,” Jake said  about his Mesa College experience. “The art classes and Museum Studies Program at Mesa have been some of the best experiences I’ve had in my life and they’ve opened doors to opportunities that I never thought were possible. One of those opportunities is my current internship with the Collections Department at the Mingei International Museum (at Balboa Park).”

“I’m so proud that Jake has been accepted for this internship which is open to students from all over the United States and is extremely competitive,” said Mesa College Professor Alessandra Moctezuma, who encouraged him to apply. “The Smithsonian internship will open up so many opportunities for him.”

The Smithsonian Institution is a federally funded organization that sprawls across 19 museums, 21 libraries, nine research centers, and a zoo. The Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies Undergraduate Internship Program includes accommodations in Washington, D.C. for the duration of the program, round-trip travel to Washington, D.C., and a total stipend of $6,396.

“I’m excited to go outside of my community and gain more skills to bring back to San Diego to further enrich the community,” Jake said. “I was the first person in my family born in San Diego, and I love this city. It would mean the world to me to be able to come back after the program and add more to our art and museum culture.”


About the Museum Studies Program

This three-course program provides theory, instruction, and practical experience in all aspects of design and installation of art exhibitions. Students receive an overview of the history, functions and operations of art galleries and Museums. Museum Studies Program and Courses | San Diego Mesa College (


About San Diego Mesa College

San Diego Mesa College is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college committed to access, success, and equity. We honor those commitments as a diverse community of students, faculty, professional staff, and administrators who collaborate to foster scholarship, leadership, innovation, and excellence in an inclusive learning environment. By promoting student learning and achievement that leads to degrees and certificates, transfer, workforce training, and lifelong learning, we empower our students to reach their educational goals and shape their future.  Among the largest community colleges in California, Mesa College serves 30,000 students per year, 25% of whom are full-time. Mesa offers nearly 200 associate degree and certificate programs and is one of 15 California community colleges offering a four-year baccalaureate degree. Mesa ranks as San Diego’s top transfer institution, is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution and a Military Friendly School, serving more than 3,500 veterans and their families.


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Tags: Internships, San Diego Mesa College Museum Studies, Mesa Students