Reflections from MARA Alumnus Jody Brumage
Published: July 5, 2017 by Anna Maloney
It has only been a couple of months since MARA alumnus Jody Brumage walked across the virtual stage to receive his diploma, but he will always have fond memories of his time in the MARA program.
The iSchool at San José State University has the unique distinction of being one of the largest fully online information schools in the country, exposing students to a range of diverse perspectives and supporting numerous academic and career paths. The Master of Archives and Records Administration program at SJSU consistently provides students with these benefits, as well as the added advantage of a close-knit learning community. Even though all courses are taught asynchronously using a convenient web platform, the classmates students meet in MARA 200 are often the same ones completing the culminating experience requirement (MARA 289 ePortfolio) three years later. For me, this has helped the MARA program to feel like a traditional degree program, in which the students and professors are people you know well, not just people you know of. One of the students I have had the pleasure of completing the MARA program with is Jody Brumage.
When Brumage completed his undergraduate degree in public history from Shepherd University in 2013, he already had several years of experience working in archives. As an intern turned archives assistant turned archivist and office manager at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, as well as a historian and curator at the South Mountain Heritage Society, Brumage had a strong practical foundation in archival policies and processing. “I immediately found interest in the work of arranging and describing historical records…I found that archives, especially those working with historical collections, served a purpose that fit my undergraduate studies in public history.”
When researching online graduate programs, he found that SJSU’s MARA program was one of two endorsed by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). “I decided it would be the best fit for me as I was working full time. I also appreciated the balanced inclusion of both Records Management and Archives in the program, which is a defining feature of the MARA framework at SJSU. Students are able to explore the fields as they span the full lifecycle of information assets.”
For Brumage, one figure at SJSU has been ever-present: Dr. Lisa Daulby. In August 2014, a few short weeks before he was due to start the MARA program, Brumage attended his first SAA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. “While at the conference, completely overwhelmed by the scale of the event, the crowds, and the seemingly-endless number of panels and presentations, I met Dr. Lisa Daulby at a meet and greet for new and current MARA students.” In addition to being a friendly face at the SAA conference, Brumage got to know Dr. Daulby well through his first few semesters and thoroughly enjoyed the courses she taught.
“Courses like those taught by Dr. Daulby are what makes the MARA program dynamic and unique, presenting us as students with diverse tools and methods that can shape our understanding and ability to address the difficult challenges archivists are facing today in the growing world of born-digital records. Dr. Daulby has been an exceptional mentor, project advisor, and example for me as a student over the past three years.”
It was under Dr. Daulby’s instruction in MARA 200 – The Record and Recordkeeping Professions that Brumage developed an appreciation for the evolution of archives through the course of human civilization, particularly the philosophies and scholars of the past two hundred years. “As someone who had spent several years studying history, I naturally found this research intriguing for understanding where the profession I am working in originates. However, exploring these other perspectives besides the one in which I have experience has shown me the different ways to define records and to think about the ways in which they can be used and preserved.”
As Brumage donned his virtual cap and gown this past May, he had one final reflection the MARA program: “I really appreciate the MARA program for allowing its students to pursue different project opportunities. So many courses [in other programs] are structured rigidly, but the MARA program offers a broad area in which you can focus…I’ve worked with academic and private organizations, large libraries/archives and small museums and historical societies. Having this varied experience has not only been a wonderful addition to my résumé, but it has offered me vast perspectives and experiences that will be vital as I continue developing my career.”