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Misia Leonard Scholarship Spotlight: Maura Smith

March 25, 2023 1:47 PM | Anonymous

The Misia Leonard Scholarship is a fund to help students, apprentices, and emerging professionals attend the International Preservation Trades Workshop. Founded in 2016, this scholarship is named in memory of Misia Leonard. Misia served on the PTN Board of Directors and was a strong advocate for the preservation of our cultural heritage. For over 20 years, she worked for the City of New York, spending the last eight of those as Director of the Historic Preservation Office for the Department of Design and Construction. While serving on the PTN Board of Directors, she was instrumental in the development of AIA/CES program. 

The Misia Leonard Scholarship was dedicated in her honor in 2016. Since then, five students and apprentices annually receive financial assistance to attend the IPTW. This has been a great avenue for emergining professionals to learn about different trades, meet craftspeople, and get engaged with PTN. The Scholarship is supported by proceeds from the annual auction at IPTW. Five different people were awarded scholarships to attend the 2022 IPTW at Belmont College. In the lead up to the 25th IPTW, we will feature one of their stories each month. This month we feature Maura Smith.

This year, up to 25 students, apprentices, and emerging professionals will able to attend the IPTW for free. Those students can submit an application for waived registration here, and also apply for the Misia Leonard Scholarship. Consider donating to the PTN Scholarship Fund through direct donations and donating to the annual auction.

Maura Smith

Let me begin by thanking PTN for affording me the opportunity to attend the 2022 IPTW conference by awarding me with the Misia Leonard scholarship. As a beginning professional, having the opportunity to interact and study with experts in the field is priceless. While my education at Belmont College laid a solid foundation for a career in the traditional trades, there is only so much that can be learned in a classroom setting. Starting out in a new field can be rather daunting at times, especially when there is a lack of direct mentorship. When encountering new or unanticipated problems, the troubleshooting process often involves much trial and error. Having the ability to ask an experienced tradesperson what to do in these situations is a lifesaver. 

I was thrilled to have the chance to watch many of my idols work, and assumed I would glean some new insights through observation; however, I did not expect the workshops to be so interactive. I was able to ask loads of questions that have been keeping me up at night! Perhaps the most surprising theme was that many world-renowned masters of their craft did not consider themselves to be masters at all. Every person I spoke with mentioned that there is always more to learn and each project presents a distinctive set of challenges. Further, they were eager to divulge their most prized tips and tricks. This culture of sharing one's knowledge and experience was quite unique and something that is seldom seen elsewhere. 

I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend the IPTW conference. I have gained an understanding of many new techniques that I may not have grasped otherwise. I engaged with a wide variety of professionals in the field, each of whom dispensed valuable wisdom and advice. The entire experience was quite momentous and I look forward to the next one! 

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