Forward Thinking Archaeologist Graduates from the iSchool with Advanced Certificate in Digital Assets
Kaely Colligan

“Real-world and business-like scenarios were often used for course content, which was immensely helpful. The readings were always relevant and I felt that all the assignments created an essential toolkit for us to use later on in our professional lives.”

Kaely Colligan
Advanced Certificate Graduate 2017
Davis, California

As an archaeologist, 2017 advanced certificate in digital assets graduate Kaely Colligan knows that it takes planning, careful consideration and foresight before digging into both the literal and the figurative earth. This knowledge, born out of her anthropological studies and her work at cultural resources management company Far Western, helped Colligan realize what’s on the horizon for the field of preservation and archaeology. “In my ten years of studying and practicing archaeology,” says Colligan, “it has become apparent to me that the future of preservation, and therefore cultural resources management, lies in the practical management of data with the least disturbance to sites or artifacts, by avoiding assemblage backlogs, corrupt data and abandoned collections.” Colligan knew she needed to study the digital aspects of her field more deeply, which led her to San José State University's iSchool for her advanced certificate in digital assets. She is the first person outside of the school’s MLIS program to receive the certificate.

The Digital Frontier
SJSU’s one hundred percent online program had the flexibility and reputation that worked for Colligan. “I actually learned about SJSU’s iSchool through coffee meetups with a friend during maternity leave,” sheKaely Colligan working at a dig site says. “I felt that it was something I wanted to pursue, and the online platform would work perfectly with my work and new-baby schedule.” The program went beyond just fitting into her busy work and personal life, though. It also connected her with professors and material that broadened her understanding. In particular, “Digital Assets Management taught by John Horodyski was an extremely beneficial class,” Colligan notes. “Real-world and business-like scenarios were often used for course content, which was immensely helpful.” She continues, “The readings were always relevant and I felt that all the assignments created an essential toolkit for us to use later on in our professional lives.”

Per Colligan (pictured right, working on a site), the advanced certificate is already paying off in her position as a staff archaeologist at Far Western in Davis, California. As a cultural resources management company, Far Western consults with various public entities, private firms, tribal organizations and non-profit groups to aid in cultural resource compliance. “My experiences with the company,” Colligan says, “includes archaeological survey, excavation, report writing support, and data management.” Of course, the advanced certificate has helped Colligan the most in her last experience. She now feels more self-assured when handling data and ready for the future of the archaeological field.   

Beyond the Excavation Pit
Kaely Colligan working with Cabrillo as a TAFor those seeking work in Colligan’s field, she has a few words of sage advice. “Take advantage,” she urges, “of any path that provides hands-on training like field schools, internships or volunteering to assess what the ‘real-world’ career is really like.” Ever the practitioner of what she preaches, Colligan volunteers her time to teach at the Cabrillo College Field Schools during the summers (left). She also acts as the assistant editor of the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, which includes the management of incoming manuscripts, fielding the peer-review processes and aiding in publications of a bi-annual hard copy journal. These interests and projects outside of her main career keep her abreast of the current movements and shifts in her field. As well, they keep her professional network thriving. 

When it comes to Colligan’s own future, she has plans for her newfound skills from the School of Information. “I intend,” she says, “to use the knowledge I have gained from SJSU to create new methods of caring for archaeological sites and their inherent data potential, while managing costs and streamlining the return of sacred objects to tribes and collections to curation facilities.” Colligan’s ultimate goal, though, as she reveals, “is to keep myself and my company at the front line of preservation in California, which, like most disciplines today, is taking a digital direction.”