Inaugural Virtual Convocation Brings Everyone Together for Momentous Celebration


A number of speakers, events, and activities are planned in celebration of more than 500 students who are graduating from the School of Information at San José State University (SJSU). The spring 2015 graduation festivities recognize the achievements of students from all the school’s online educational programs: Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS), Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA), Teacher Librarian, Post-Master’s Certificate in Library and Information Science, and San José Gateway PhD.

New this year, the iSchool is hosting a virtual convocation ceremony to honor its graduates, who live all around the world.  The online graduation events—both synchronous and asynchronous—will bring everyone together for the momentous occasion.

The live synchronous ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 16, 2015, from 11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. PDT via Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing platform. Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the SJSU School of Information, will begin the ceremony with a welcome address and will be followed by guest speaker Dr. Alice Hines, interim dean of the SJSU College of Applied Sciences and Arts. The iSchool’s invited convocation speaker this year is Miguel Figueroa, director of the American Library Association (ALA) Center for the Future of Libraries. The graduating student recipient of the 2015 Ken Haycock Award for Exceptional Professional Promise, Darren Ilett, will also give a speech at the ceremony. The link to the live session will be sent to all graduating students and posted on the iSchool’s website in May.

In addition to the live convocation ceremony, students are encouraged to partake in the asynchronous online graduation platform that was developed specifically for the inaugural virtual convocation. The virtual convocation website features a welcome address, information about convocation speakers, student awards, graduating student profiles, audio degree presentations, and a social media celebration.

Graduating students can create their profile on the online graduation platform, and family, friends, classmates, and colleagues can also visit the site to post congratulatory messages to student profile pages using the virtual guest book. Students must create their profiles by May 8, 2015, in order to have a full profile featured on the convocation website. A number of students have already created profiles, and those profiles note some of the unique aspects of the MLIS and MARA programs that students have appreciated the most.

Sara Kelso (MLIS 2014) stated on her profile that she appreciated the learning opportunities presented by the exclusively online MLIS program. “[It] required me to use several online interfaces, and it taught me a lot about networking and connecting with my peers across time zones, technology platforms, and schedules,” said Kelso. “It was an immersive way of learning–very hands-on, engaging, and challenging.”

Desiree Wallen (MARA 2015) noted that the diversity of students in her courses made the educational experience a very rich one. “[I met classmates from] all over the country, and in some cases international places, which provided great insights from everyone,” remarked Wallen.

Student profiles also reveal the variety of careers chosen by students graduating from the MLIS and MARA programs at the SJSU School of Information. Scott Paul Boyd (MLIS 2015) plans to use his degree to “assist in developing start-up multicultural community libraries.” Lauren Elise Poleski-Schultz (MARA 2015) plans to use her degree to “be an archivist at a movie studio.” Victoria Marie Haindel (MLIS 2015) plans to put her degree to work as “an access service librarian,” and Amanda Louise Turkie is determined to use her MLIS degree “to save the world, one school library at a time!”

In addition to the online festivities, the iSchool’s student chapter of the ALA will host an in-person reception for graduates. The in-person event will be held on the 4th floor of Clark Hall on Friday, May 22, 2015, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. PDT. Students are also welcome to attend the SJSU commencement, which will be held for the entire university on Saturday, May 25, 2015, at Spartan Stadium. Hirsh and other local faculty members will be present to hood iSchool graduates at the SJSU commencement.

More information about the virtual convocation ceremony and an FAQ about commencement activities are available on the iSchool graduation web page.

Congratulations to all the students graduating during academic year 2014/2015!