New iSchool Blogger Shares Her Favorite iSchool Resources
Published: October 5, 2022 by Kesheena Doctor
Hello, iSchool! My name is Kesheena (she/her/they/them), and I am your new iStudent blogger. This is my first semester at San José State University School of Information in the MLIS program. I am a full-time student focusing on academic librarianship and am an Association of Research Libraries Kaleidoscope Program Scholar for 2022-2024.
I graduated from Portland State University with a BA in Women’s Studies in 2015. While an undergrad, I intended to attend graduate school, but indecisiveness and circumstance prevented me from pursuing this dream. Instead, I focused on my professional career in the tech industry and satiated my need for community change through volunteer work. I was satisfied with the life I built for myself and likely would have never returned to academia if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I’m sure many of you experienced, the pandemic was a trying time and my life changed overnight. I was permanently working from home, volunteering was put on hiatus and ended up spending a lot of time alone, watching endless television, reading and reflecting. I began evaluating my life and revisiting abandoned goals, one of which was grad school. One silver lining of the pandemic was the sudden availability of online resources. After deciding that I wanted to pursue a MLIS degree, I found a bevy of online graduate programs to choose from. A librarian friend shared a scholarship for Indigenous students which motivated my decision to apply to SJSU.
The iSchool’s Welcome: Several Essential Resources for New Students
Like many first-generation and BIPOC college students, it is often difficult for us to take those educational leaps since we have few family resources to guide us or give support while navigating academic institutions. Fortunately, the iSchool has provided me with some incredible resources to help me prepare for my new life as a graduate student and make me feel connected to the iSchool within a short 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 furnished the information that I needed to prepare myself for my first semester at the iSchool. I spent the summer reviewing the email and ensuring I followed its recommended steps.
The iSchool also offered meeting opportunities, and I was able to attend the Tips for Success Registration Workshop on May 23rd. 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 neared. One of the best resources the iSchool had was the New Student Checklist. I bookmarked the MLIS Special Session Student Checklist to my browser as suggested and each week revisited it and slowly checked off each box as the fall semester drew near. With each checkmark, I gained confidence and felt more and more prepared for graduate school.
Student Success: Building the Foundation
One concern I had about attending an online graduate program was getting assistance for any admission or financial aid troubles I might have. However, that was quelled when I needed help with some external scholarships. The SJSU Financial Aid and Scholarship Office were quick to answer any questions I had and with their help, I was able to secure some scholarships for my first year of graduate school. The iSchool Student Services Team was also invaluable to my external scholarship process. And I can’t forget Dr. Linda Main, who replied to my email request promptly. Knowing that SJSU was there for me confirmed that I made the right choice with graduate schools.
In July, I also had the chance to take part in the Foundations of Graduate Writing Workshop Series hosted by the SJSU Writing Center. I was able to refamiliarize myself with the academic writing style, regain confidence in my writing skills and learned about the Pomodoro Technique, which I’ve since used for studying. I also joined the iSchool’s First Generation Student Group which has been very rewarding. I have enjoyed connecting with other students and bonding over our shared experiences as first-generation college students. Lastly, the requisite INFO 203 was also a great introductory course to the virtual learning format. Though I have very strong computer skills due to my tech job, I found the course very useful and learned many skills to succeed in our program. I appreciated the APA Guidelines section, creating a WordPress blog section and was happy to get a chance to familiarize myself with the learning management system, Canvas.
Now that I am well into the fall semester and learning about the ins and outs of information science, I am very thankful that the iSchool has so many great resources for new and current students. It made my transition to grad school smoother and allowed me to better focus on my studies. Interacting with fellow students and professors who share their enthusiasm for the profession has been a delight and it has assured me that I made the right decision to become a librarian. I am excited to share this journey with you through the iSchool blog.