“SJSU’s MARA program curriculum covered every area of records management and I particularly like that the curriculum is continually evaluated and updated to align with the job market and emerging trends in the records profession. The program also really helped me to embrace the changes brought about [in my career] as a result of emerging technologies. The program offered tools to develop solutions that can be used in any industry.”
MARA Alumna Graduated 2016
Preservation of information is at the heart of what led iSchool alumna Ossie Thomas (MARA ’16) to pursue a MARA degree. She says it plainly, “I am passionate about managing and organizing my company’s information, making it easily accessible and usable for future use or historical purposes.” Enough said. This powerful drive to preserve information brought her to pursue work in the field and, eventually, a MARA degree at the School of Information. As Thomas puts it, she pursued a MARA degree to enhance her skills to effectively interpret data, develop a sustainable recordkeeping program and learn how to be more efficient in the preservation process. “I’d say my biggest push to pursue a MARA degree,” Thomas says, “was led by organization regulations that govern records because I am responsible for implementing company-wide records and information management program.”
Today, Thomas works at International Paper Company (IP)’s corporate office in Memphis, Tennessee as a records and information management team leader. She’s responsible for managing company-wide compliance processes for their global records management program. As someone with a full-time job, Thomas needed a MARA program that would allow her the freedom to work while learning, which SJSU’s 100% online platform was built for. She also needed a program with a curriculum that covered every area of records management. Says Thomas, “I particularly like that the curriculum is continually evaluated and updated to align with the job market and emerging trends in the records profession.” Overall, the course work in the MARA program at the iSchool helped Thomas embrace the changes made in her workplace due to emerging and evolving technologies.
Partners in Certification
Thomas not only received her MARA at SJSU’s iSchool, she was also able to become a Certified Records Analyst (CRA) through the school’s partnership with the Institute of Certified Records Managers. Says Thomas, “The partnership allows MARA graduates to apply completed course work towards examination credit for parts 2-4 of the CRA exam, which offers the graduate a direct path to certification.” As per SJSU’s official statement on the partnership’s meaning:
"The purpose of the partnership agreement between SJSU's iSchool and the ICRM is to build a bridge between Records and Information Management (RIM) education provided by the MARA program in order to fast track graduates for ICRM certification. The joint strategic goal of both partners is to enhance the overall RIM profession by supplying educated and credentialed professionals to fill demand for jobs and to advance related careers."
The process to receive credit for the CRA exam is a simple one you can learn more about right here.
Coupled with this fast track to certification as a certified records analyst, Thomas’s studies proved invaluable to her work. “Every single class on the MARA curriculum,” she says, “directly related to my day-to-day operation in my current role.” Thomas goes on to single out her Information Governance (IG) course with Dr. Lisa Daulby, which she took just as her company was embarking on an IG project. “So,” Thomas says, “I now have the opportunity to work on the IG project and because of this course I can bring insight into the discussion.” The culminating e-Portfolio, too, helped Thomas in her career. Says Thomas, “[It] was a great way to exemplify my competency in the area for RIM professionals. It’s a product of my hard work that I can use in the future to demonstrate my mastery of professional competencies.”
Preserving the Past is Her Future
For any current student or graduate looking to follow a similar pathway to hers, Thomas has a few words of advice. “Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” she says. “Look for opportunities that will cause you to stretch yourself to new possibilities and be open to new ideas and experiences.” Thomas suggests to look towards professional organizations like ARMA and AIIM for networking and development purposes.
Looking ahead, Thomas sees herself staying put in her current role for the foreseeable future, with a few caveats. “I will have added responsibilities,” she says, “like assisting the company’s librarian with managing our soon-to-be 125 years old company’s historical records. I will also lead more projects going forward.” With her MARA degree and CRA certification in hand, Thomas is prepared for any and all challenges or responsibilities that come her way.