Historic Preservation student pursues career with National Park Service

Elizabeth Rival finds passion in restoration of historic landmarks

Elizabeth Rival

If Elizabeth Rival could give one piece of advice to a fellow student searching for a career path in a diverse field, she would say to pick a person whose job you are passionate about and pursue a similar course. This is exactly what she did, and it helped her land an opportunity of a lifetime.

Like many of the design professions, the historic preservation field is very broad, offering a variety of paths and opportunities. Elizabeth, a student in the BAC's Master of Design Studies, Historic Preservation program, discovered her passion in landmark restoration projects from a mentor at the National Parks Service and last October she began her dream job as a preservationist there.

At the Parks Service, Elizabeth has had the opportunity to gain experience in management of historic preservation projects across the nation. She has found herself constantly challenged and working completely hands-on to perform a variety of tasks, from roofing, to repairing windows, to specifying costs of materials. Since October, she has worked on a church in Portsmouth Island off the coast of North Carolina, a FEMA owned cabin in Pennsylvania, as well as the Allee House in Delaware, which she will be using as a case study for her final capstone project.

Prior to the BAC, Elizabeth was a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and she received her bachelor's degree in historic preservation and conservation from the University of Mary Washington. While at Mary Washington, Elizabeth attended a summer conservation program in Malta with Robert Ogle, past director of the BAC's historic preservation program. This connection led her to the BAC to pursue her master's degree.

Elizabeth's passion for historic preservation is rooted in her admiration of the vernacular structures of her home state of West Virginia. She loves the ability to restore old spaces in order for them to be reused and for the work of their original craftsmen to be appreciated. Prior to working for the National Parks Service, Elizabeth lived and worked in Virginia as the preservation specialist at George Washington's Mount Vernon and volunteered as an iron conservator at James Madison's Montpelier.

Elizabeth is close to finishing her degree at the BAC and will be looking forward to a future project on the beautiful island of St. Croix.