Published: October 5, 2022 by Kesheena Doctor
Hello iSchool! My name is Kesheena (she/they/them), and I’m your new iStudent blogger. This is my first semester at San Jose State University School of Information in the
MLIS program. I am a full time student focusing on academic librarianship and am a
Association of Research Libraries Kaleidoscope Program Fellow for 2022-2024.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from Portland State University in 2015. During my undergraduate studies, I intended to attend graduate school, but indecision and circumstances kept me from prevented from pursuing this dream. Instead, I focused on my professional career in the tech industry and fulfilled my need for community change through volunteer work. I was content with the life I built for myself and probably never would have gone back to college had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I’m sure many of you have experienced, the pandemic has been a difficult time and my life has changed overnight. I was constantly working from home, volunteering was cut short, and I ended up spending a lot of time alone, watching endless TV, reading, and thinking. I started evaluating my life and revisiting abandoned goals, one of which was college. One of the positive aspects of the pandemic has been the sudden availability of online resources. After deciding that I wanted to pursue an education in MLIS, I found a multitude of online graduate programs to choose from. A librarian friend shared a scholarship for Indigenous students, which prompted my decision to apply to SJSU.
The iSchool welcome: several essential resources for new students
Like many first-generation and BIPOC students, we often find it difficult to make these educational leaps because we have few family resources to guide or support us as we navigate academic institutions. Fortunately, iSchool has provided me with amazing resources to help me prepare for my new life as a grad student and have me feeling connected to iSchool in no time. After receiving confirmation that I was accepted into the program, the iSchool Student Services Team sent me an email with important next steps. The email was very reassuring and provided the information I needed to prepare for my first semester at iSchool. I spent the summer reviewing the email and making sure I followed the recommended steps.
The iSchool also offered meeting opportunities, and I was able to attend the
Tips for Successful Enrollment Workshop May 23. The workshop was full of information that helped clarify some of the questions I had about the program. It also put a face to the names of the iSchool Student Services team, who I would later interact with virtually as the fall semester approaches. One of the best resources iSchool had was the Checklist for new students. I marked the MLIS Special Session Student Checklist to my browser as suggested and each week I revisited it and slowly ticked each box as the fall semester approached. With each tick, I grew in confidence and felt more and more prepared for graduate school.
Student Success: Building the Foundation
One of the concerns I had about attending an online graduate program was getting help with any admissions or financial aid issues I might have. However, this was suppressed when I needed help with some external scholarships. The SJSU Office of Financial Aid and Awards were quick to answer all of my questions and with their help I was able to secure scholarships for my first year of graduate school. The student services team at iSchool was also invaluable to my external scholarship process. And I can’t forget Dr. Linda Main, who responded quickly to my request by e-mail. Knowing that SJSU was there for me confirmed that I had made the right choice with graduate schools.
In July, I also had the chance to take part in the
Fundamentals of Graduate Writing Workshop Series hosted by the
SJSU Writing Center. I was able to reacquaint myself with the academic writing style, regain confidence in my writing skills and learn the Pomodoro technique, which I have been using for studying ever since. I also joined the iSchool First Generation Student Group which was very rewarding. I enjoyed connecting with other students and bonding through our shared experiences as first generation students. Finally, the required condition NEWS 203 was also a great introductory course to the virtual learning format. Although I have very good computer skills due to my work in technology, I found the course very useful and learned many skills to be successful in our program. I enjoyed the ABS Guidelines section, creating a WordPress blog section and was happy to have the chance to familiarize myself with the learning management system, Canvas.
Now that I’m well into the fall semester and learning the ins and outs of information science, I’m so grateful that iSchool has so many great resources for new students and students. current. It eased my transition to graduate school and allowed me to better focus on my studies. Interacting with other students and faculty who share their enthusiasm for the profession has been a pleasure and reassured me that I made the right decision to become a librarian. I am delighted to share this journey with you via the iSchool blog.