Kelsey Graczyk '19: A Visual Storyteller For The National Parks
For as long as she can remember, Kelsey Graczyk ’19 wanted to work for the National Park Service.
“When I was a little girl, I visited parks all across the West and all across the United States,” Graczyk said. “When I was driving out to Pacific and Oregon (from Colorado), my dad and I would hit a lot of parks on our way to campus or coming home for the summer.”
Since she graduated, the parks have been a ticket to adventure. Graczyk has worked in national parks in Alaska, California and Michigan and is now a visual information specialist for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region Office. In that role, she helps tell the visual story at the agency’s 15 national parks in and around Washington, D.C.
That includes chronicling some of the service’s highest-profile events.
“I covered the White House Christmas Tree lighting. I took photos at the White House Easter Egg Roll. I got to be very close to (President) Joe Biden and say hello to him and the First Lady,” Graczyk said. “It’s really cool to be part of experiences like that. To take photos and document that has been exciting.”
Graczyk’s journey to Washington started in Alaska, where she did a media internship at Klondike Gold Rush National Park. A contracted position as a media specialist at California’s Joshua Tree National Park led to a seasonal position at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Michigan’s lower peninsula. She then went back to Klondike Gold Rush for her first permanent visual information specialist position before moving into her role in the District of Columbia, where she has been since 2021.
While the great outdoors is what called Graczyk to parks work, she is equally excited about the history and culture that makes the Capital Region so rich.
“It’s stunning with all of the architecture, monuments and outdoor spaces,” Graczyk said. “It’s such a unique region to work in and experience all of the different types of fascinating parks. You are constantly learning here.”
A criminal justice, law and society major at Pacific, Graczyk focused her studies on how law enforcement could use social media for communication and transparency within the framework of community policing. Many of the skills she learned through that work directly translate to the work she now does with the NPS.
“There are a lot of cool opportunities that you get to have at Pacific and then you can make what you want of it and build your own experience,” Graczyk said. “That experience can be translated to other things and while there may not be a direct correlation, there can be if you really want it to.”