Occasionally, something small can change the whole direction of a life.
“My sophomore year at Burke Catholic, I was one of the delegates selected to go to Milan, Italy, to help present the Da Vinci horse,” says Johanna Yaun, now 33, and the Orange County historian.
The 24-foot-tall bronze horse sculpture, based on drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, was cast locally by the Tallix Foundry in Beacon and unveiled on Sept. 10, 1999 at the Hippodrome de San Siro in Milan.
“I travelled to Italy with my grandmother, Ida Mauriello, who was born in Rome,” says Yaun, who was 15 at the time.
“I met planners, tourism and academic people and museum staff along the way. It was my first realization that history could actually be a career.”
Yaun, a Newburgh native, graduated from Burke in 2002 and enrolled at Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland, near the Italian border.
Two years later, she had her associate’s degree in European history and was planning on staying in Europe.
But a scholarship offer from SUNY New Paltz brought her back home.
“Of course, I needed a job, so I went over to Washington’s Headquarters and was surprised to find there was a full-time opening for historical interpreter,” she says