“I chose the iSchool because of the program’s excellent reputation and the fact that it’s completely online. Because I work internationally, I needed a flexible online option for my MLIS.”
MLIS Student Graduating 2018
The Hague, Netherlands
Like many graduate students, Gina Ruocco found her way to an MLIS program through her teaching career. “I’ve had the pleasure,” she says, “of collaborating with some great school librarians and media specialists over my 10 years of teaching English.” Influenced by these interactions and her love of libraries, Ruocco made the decision to earn an MLIS at SJSU’s School of Information. Says Ruocco, “Becoming a media specialist in an international school library would be a rewarding and relevant professional challenge at this point in my career and earning an MLIS is the first step in achieving that goal.” In her coming semesters, Ruocco will be focusing on courses in the media specialist career pathway.
Unlike many graduate students, Ruocco lives and teaches English in The Hague, Netherlands, which is her third country of residence in her career of teaching abroad. Before getting her current position, she taught English in Hong Kong and Turkey. Naturally, Ruocco needed a rewarding and diverse MLIS program that allowed her the freedom to work so far from the States in a field as demanding and time-consuming as education. While looking into programs she found the iSchool, which has proven to be the perfect fit.
A Global Perspective
Ruocco’s experiences in the international environment have given her a global perspective on both the education and LIS fields. “The schools I’ve worked in,” Ruocco says, “all adopted the mission of developing globally minded, empathetic students, and this is a beautiful thing that can really impact our world for the better.” She goes on to say that, above all, she has learned that “it’s incredibly useful to teach students how to look outside of themselves and their culture in order to better understand the world and help others.” Ruocco asserts that fostering a love of reading in students and offering them a bevy of reliable information will allow them to develop their own views based on facts. “Both,” she says, “can be done with the help of a strong media specialist.” Taking these wide steps outside of the United States onto the international stage will continue to influence Ruocco.
While she’s enjoyed all the courses she has taken thus far, Ruocco singles out Wayne Disher’s INFO 204: Information Professions class, which she took this past semester, as especially helpful and in line with what she believes a prospective information professional in any part of the world should be learning. Says Ruocco, “[Professor Disher] encouraged us to research real-life situations and find solutions to problems we might encounter in libraries.” Since she hasn’t had a great deal of hands-on experience in a library environment yet, Ruocco found these assignments most helpful. She knows that Professor Disher’s real-world feedback and lessons will be incredibly useful in her future career. Today, Ruocco is excited about her upcoming course load, which take her farther down the path to becoming a media specialist.
Although her graduation date is at least a year off, Ruocco is always looking ahead to when she has her MLIS and is on the hunt for a new position. She suggests that current students like her make connections with other information professionals, develop a strong portfolio and take advantage of professional networking websites as much as they can.
As for Ruocco herself, there’s not much change in her immediate future. For now, she’s going to remain an English teacher at her school in The Hague. After that, she’ll seek a position as a media specialist at another international school in the Netherlands. Considering the overlap between her current field and the LIS field, Ruocco doesn’t seem too worried about her prospects. “Most librarians,” says Ruocco, “are constantly in contact with people of all ages who are trying to learn something or acquire and unpack new information. Since librarians will inevitably take on the role of teacher at some point, any teaching and collaborative experiences or pedagogical knowledge is helpful.”