#Spotlight Series: Emily Mercer


Published: February 15, 2019 by Katie Kuryla

Emily Mercer is a MARA student who is passionate about history and loves working with databases. She is a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation graduate student pursuing a career she truly enjoys. Check out her spotlight! – Katie

I am in my second semester of the MARA program, attending full time. I live in Portland, Oregon, with my husband and sweet little three-legged kitty. I have a B.A. in media arts, a passion for history, and a nerdy love for databases. My interest has really shined in MARA 283.

Prior to starting the MARA program, I had a job in higher education records management, and realized that not only was the work something I had a talent for, but it was also something I truly enjoyed. I felt that this was a special combination and decided to lean into that direction and pursue a graduate degree in order to boost my professional credentials.

At first, I wasn’t sure which type of degree to obtain, but when I found the MARA program, I was impressed by the dual specialization of archives and records management. The flexibility of the distance learning program was another major factor in my decision to apply.

As a first-generation college graduate, and now a first-generation graduate student, I “hit the books” as soon as I received my acceptance letter from SJSU. I found that reading seminal scholarly articles before classes began helped me feel prepared for the path ahead. I also knew that as student of a distance learning program, I would need to know how to communicate complex ideas in simple ways to remote audiences, so I gave myself a homework assignment.

I created this Discrete Strategies for Records Management infographic to summarize Philip Bantin’s comparison of the traditional records life-cycle model with the records continuum model as published in the journal Archival Issues in 1998. I had made this before classes began and was grateful to have the chance to share it with my fellow students when this very topic was discussed in class.

I feel this preparatory work paid off, and the transition from having been out of college for a decade, to being a full time grad student went smoothly. I have a little more than a year left in the program, and already feel like I have learned a great deal about archival and RIM theory and practice. I look forward to learning more and committing myself to this career.