MARA Student Erick Hawkins Goes from Navy Service to Archives and Records Management

Community Profile

MARA student Erick Hawkins is pursuing a career in corporate records management after completing an eight-year tour of duty with the U.S. Navy.

“I feel there’s a big need for records management in the business world,” Hawkins said. “I hope to apply MARA learning principles and work in that field as a corporate archivist or corporate records manager.”

The Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program at San José State University School of Information appealed to Hawkins because of its online delivery model and its focus on records management. He enrolled with the third MARA cohort in Fall 2010.

Hawkins said that he sees a big difference between the online environment in the MARA program and the distance education environment in his undergraduate courses.

“The program I did previously was more asynchronous; we were given assignments on Mondays, turned them in on Fridays, and there was no real interaction,” Hawkins explained. “The MARA program is very heavily focused on interacting with your instructor and the other students, and commenting on their work. All the instructors have been excellent. They’re very concerned with my progress and with giving me feedback, and that makes a big difference that I noticed right away.”

Although he is still a year away from completing an internship, Hawkins is already gaining practical experience with records management. His company is currently undergoing a shift to an electronic records management system and is sharing information about the new formats and requirements with employees. “As I’m learning in the program, the company I work for is learning along with me,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins left his small hometown in central California to join the Navy in 2000, and was trained as a Nuclear Reactor Operator. He worked aboard the USS Nimitz out of San Diego and later earned the rank of Chief Petty Officer. As the ship’s Engineering Watch Supervisor, he was responsible for the 22 personnel who operated the reactor plant, electric and steam plants, and fresh water distilling units. “It was a long way from archives and records administration!” Hawkins said.

After leaving the Navy, Hawkins wanted to take advantage of his GI Bill benefits, so he researched graduate programs and learned more about the MARA degree at an Online Open House. iSchool hosts online Open Houses to give prospective MARA and MLIS students an opportunity to talk with current faculty and students.

“Several students from earlier MARA cohorts spoke about their experiences,” Hawkins said. “Though many of them had backgrounds in archives and records management, they also explained that students don’t need to have worked in the field in order to do well in the program.”

Students in each MARA cohort take the same courses together and rely on teamwork and virtual collaboration. The program is delivered fully online.

Hawkins hopes to eventually use his archives and records management knowledge to benefit his company. He plans to graduate from the MARA program with cohort 3 in spring 2013.