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She Loves Lucy

As an intern at her idol's museum, Kasy Long helped the world celebrate Lucille Ball.

If you were to ask Ohio Northern University students to name their favorite television program, you’d undoubtedly get plenty of responses. For one thing, there are just so many current shows on the air to choose from; and for another, syndication, online streaming, and Blu-ray and DVD compilations have made classic shows timeless. So for every answer of “Game of Thrones” or “The Big Bang Theory,” you might also find students who love “The Sopranos” or “Friends.”  However, you probably wouldn’t expect to find anyone whose favorite show turns 65 years old this month.

But if you asked senior creative writing student Kasy Long about her favorite, that’s exactly the answer you’d get.

“Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge Lucille Ball fan,” says the Terra Haute, Ind., native. “My mom and my aunts are all big fans as well, so I grew up watching ‘I Love Lucy.’ According to my mom, I was only 2 years old when I screamed out ‘I kissed Bill Holden!’ over and over while we were out shopping.”

For the unaffiliated, the classic line is from the 1955 episode “L.A. at Last,” in which Lucy, played by Ball, meets movie star William Holden. It’s just one of 180 episodes to air on CBS television from 1951-57. The program was not only immensely popular, but also technologically groundbreaking, and it changed the way television shows were produced. Ball was both a star on camera and behind it. A woman of immense talent, intelligence and determination, she founded Desilu Productions with her husband, Desi Arnaz, producing not only “I Love Lucy,” but also “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Mission Impossible” and “Star Trek.”

“Lucille Ball was such a smart businesswoman,” says Long. “No one wanted to make ‘Star Trek,’ but she was the one who said, ‘Let’s try it and see.’ Obviously, she was right, and it is still a huge franchise to this day.”

Long says she also admires how Ball remained close with her hometown, Jamestown, N.Y. “She never forgot Jamestown, and the people there really love her for it.”

Long saw that love firsthand two years ago when she visited the upstate New York hamlet to tour The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum & Center for Comedy. Little did she know at the time, but she would soon return. After her visit, she started following the museum on social media, and in December 2015 she saw a call for summer communications and marketing interns. She eagerly applied for the internship and was selected in January 2016.

As soon as her junior year at ONU ended, Long traveled to Jamestown for the second time and jumped right into a bustling operation in the midst of planning the 25th annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival featuring comedians Lewis Black, Brian Regan and “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah. In addition, The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum was preparing to display new exhibits in the form of actual “I Love Lucy” costumes and props  it received from Universal Studios to celebrate the show’s 65th anniversary.

From the first day, Long found herself busy with one task or another. When she wasn’t writing press releases or promotional copy, transcribing audio files, or delivering promotional materials for the festival around western New York, she was sitting in on conference calls with CNN or posting to the National Comedy Center’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. And if her daily duties weren’t enough, she volunteered for every extra assignment she could get and even worked part time in the museum gift shop. It seems like a lot of responsibility to put on an intern, but unlike Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory scene of the infamous “I Love Lucy” episode “Job Switching,” Long handled the seemingly unending conveyor belt of tasks like a pro.

“I took advantage of every opportunity this summer, and I changed a lot as an individual because of it,” she says. “My time management is much better now as a result of this internship. I am a planner by nature, but I learned that in the real world of communications, things come up and you need to be able to roll with it.”

As her internship progressed, the interns were assigned to organize different events during the comedy festival. Due to her experience and superb attitude and work ethic, Long was assigned to lead more events than any of the nine interns. She captained the Lucille Ball Trivia Contest and silent auction and was named the promotion director for the Story Pirates Kids Comedy Show and Stand-Up Showcase.

“I was entirely in charge of the events as if I were an actual employee at the museum. I received some help from my supervisors, but for the most part, I was there to figure things out on my own. Sure, it was OK to ask questions, but they trained us to first find answers ourselves.”

Long believes that she is a different person now as a result of her time in Jamestown. She performed well during her internship and feels more confident. This newfound confidence was on display this fall when she took on the role of editor of the ONU student newspaper The Northern Review. She credits her ONU education for preparing her to do the work required of her this summer, and her lifelong love of Lucy for making it a dream come true.

“As my aunt said when she came up to visit me this summer, ‘This really is what you were born to do.’ And yes, it really is.”

In addition to being a journalist and a communications wiz, Long is an accomplished poet. Her poem “Night Swim” has been selected for publication in the upcoming issue of The Rectangle, the creative writing journal of the international English honors society, Sigma Tau Delta.

Founded in 1931, The Rectangle publishes poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Publication in the journal is highly competitive. According to Douglas Dowland, assistant professor of English and advisor to ONU’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter, the acceptance rate is only 13 percent. Submissions are blind-juried by faculty selected by the journal, typically heads of well-regarded university creative writing programs.

“The bar is set astonishingly high. That Kasy will be published in The Rectangle is not only a sign of her strengths as a creative writer, but a sign of the strengths of our English department faculty as well,” he says.