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Meet the three college students working to preserve McKinney history

Star Local Media

Originally Posted: July 2, 2021

For Jordyn Harrell, researching McKinney’s history is like working on a big jigsaw puzzle.

The Southern Methodist University student likes to usually have the whole story, details and all, before her, she said, but this summer, she and two others are searching for the pieces themselves.

Three students are working this summer to research and find the stories of who made McKinney’s history, particularly focusing on the city’s Black and Hispanic communities. Their work is part of an internship program with Legacy Keepers of Old East McKinney, a consortium focused on preserving and promoting the history of McKinney’s Black and Hispanic communities.

For Luisa Piña, an Austin College student, the internship provides an almost full-circle experience: she attended McKinney High School. Piña was an English as a second language student, she said.

“This town was really the introducing of America when I first arrived,” Piña said.

After leaving for college, she never expected to come back. Now, Piña said, after getting the internship offer through her school and learning about the consortium’s goals, she has found an appreciation for McKinney history.

“I’m definitely glad that I got to come back to McKinney, definitely see it through a whole new light, and in a way contribute to a town that three years ago gave me so much, so I can give something back to it as well,” she said.

Harrell and fellow SMU student Bri Tollie are focusing on learning about members of the graduating class of 1943 from Doty High School, which was once the city’s only high school for Black students. In addition to scouring documents like marriage and military records, their goal is to go beyond the bare-bone facts.

That means interviewing family members who can bring memories and narratives to the table. READ MORE