#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.   


Your Experience in the MARA Program

Hi, Emily:

I am thinking of applying to the MARA program at SJSU. I was considering the library science program but the MARA seems better for me. I work in a university library and I earned a graduate degree in museum studies a few years ago. Alas, I am using this degree in my current job and feel that I need more umph and training to get something in a museum or other archival setting. My questions are do you enjoy this program and in what setting do you hope to use your training in? A museum maybe? I see archival studies and record management lead to some interesting careers so far from what I've read.

Also, how is that sweet three-legged cat you mentioned? I love pets. I have a rescue beagle named Cheyenne and have had her for a little over a year now. She's my buddy and my child too.

Thanks for your time.

Frances K Everette-Gayther

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