“The [MARA] degree provides unmatched versatility, allowing me the opportunity to pursue advancement in records management and archive related professions.”
iSchool Student Graduating 2019
iSchool student and records manager James Carpenter has always seen the value in records-keeping and the sheer ubiquity in our daily lives. “Although we may not be conscious of it,” Carpenter says, “most of us have already had to manage records of some type whether it be in our personal lives or for work. I’ve always had an interest in this kind of organization and, given my background in creative writing, I was naturally inclined to store and preserve my writing files.” When his work at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, a law firm in Miami, Florida suddenly shifted towards the records management field, Carpenter found that he could relate to the responsibilities inherent in the profession and enjoyed the area of work immensely. It was this serendipitous shift in his work that led Carpenter towards a career as a records management professional with a MARA degree from SJSU’s School of Information. Says Carpenter, “The MARA program allowed me to take my career in records to the next step and offered support and guidance along the way.”
A Scholarship for the Records
As a member of the ARMA International organization, which supports individuals in the records management profession, Carpenter has a bevy of resources and scholarship opportunities available to him. Still, it was a member of the SJSU faculty that steered him in the direction towards the ARMA Golden Gate chapter scholarship. Says Carpenter, “I learned about [it] from Dr. Pat Franks, the MARA program coordinator. My qualifications seemed to be most compatible in terms of the scholarship’s requirements. Applying for the scholarship consisted of submitting a resume, a personal statement and a multimedia presentation supporting the personal statement. “I found the media presentation to be the most interesting,” Carpenter says, “as I could be creative with it and think outside the box.” In his presentation, Carpenter focused on the challenges he faces working in records on a day to day basis, like convincing his firm of the benefits and value that a well-structured and efficient records management program can provide the firm. Using Prezi software for its interactive components, Carpenter highlighted how he deftly handles these daily challenges effectively.
After receiving notification of his scholarship, Carpenter filmed a video expressing his thanks to SJSU and ARMA International for his selection and their confidence in his future:
The faculty and students here at the iSchool continue to influence Carpenter in his studies and decisions in building his skillset for the professional environment. Even before coming to SJSU for his MARA degree, he was able to connect with faculty members. “I had the opportunity to correspond with Dr. Franks,” he says, “who gave me lots of information about the MARA program and the iSchool.” Franks connected him with Jason Kaltenbacher and Dr. Lisa Daulby who further helped him explore what the MARA program had to offer and answer all his questions. Ultimately, it was this ample connectivity between student and professor, along with the flexibility to work full-time and learn in an online setting, that brought Carpenter to the iSchool and keeps him engaged with the courses.
The diversity of Carpenter’s ongoing course work also helps keep him engaged with his studies. “As a MARA student,” he says, “the program requires you to take some MLIS program courses as electives. Digital Preservation and Preservation Management are two that have stood out to me thus far. I found both to be incredibly insightful and complimentary to my experience in records management. The professors were encouraging and passionate about the subject matter, which helped to make learning about it that much more fun.”
For Future Archival
With his ARMA scholarship in hand, Carpenter will continue here at the iSchool while working full-time until graduating in Spring 2019. “This money,” he notes, “will primarily be used to cover many of the costs associated with obtaining a MARA degree.” As for his professional future, Carpenter has his sights set on getting a couple of certifications in the records management field after graduation. “The MARA curriculum [at the iSchool],” he says, “is providing me with a solid foundation to prep for both the certified records manager and certified archivist examinations. Furthermore, the degree provides unmatched versatility, allowing me the opportunity to pursue advancement in records management and archival professions.”
Carpenter’s gratitude and unwavering dedication to his field and future are clear. Certainly, this scholarship will not be the last award he receives for it.