Saturday, June 14, 2008

Master² Fob

Last night was the Information School convocation. The university-wide commencement is going on right now, but I decided I didn't need three more hours of sitting in my robes of the unholy priesthood in order to feel graduated. FoxyJ, my mom, my parents-in-law, and my sister-in-law were all at the convocation last night so they can bear witness that I did indeed have my name called, walk across a stage, get hooded, and receive a fake diploma.

I had a strange sense of disconnectedness last night. As opposed to the last two times I graduated from college, this time I didn't quite feel like I belonged there. As I sat there listening to the speeches and watching my fellow graduates walk across the stage, I tried to figure out why I had this strong sense of detachment.

I decided it comes largely from the way I approached this program. Whereas I got my English degrees more than anything because I loved studying literature, I came here with only one goal in mind--to earn the degree I needed to get a better library job. This was never meant to be a wonderful college experience but rather a means to an end, a necessary hoop I had to jump through to move forward in my career. With this in mind, I didn't get very involved in school beyond taking classes.

I did work in the library last year and I'm glad I did because if not I might not have made any friends at all. This past year, though, I quit my reference job to volunteer in cataloging, where I worked with cataloging librarians but very few students, and on top of that I had a fellowship that required me to take Spanish and European studies courses so I was taking only about one class from my program per quarter. This last quarter my one LIS class was an online course (and a bad experience at that), so I had basically no live interaction at all with LIS students.

And then there's the fact that last year my personal life was a complete mess so now there are some less-than-pleasant memories associated with my UW experience, and of course the fact that I'm not jumping right into a library career as I'd planned to, calling into question the point of all this. I remind myself, though, that I did learn some valuable things here and I did have some great experiences, and my degree will be very practical and useful a year or two from now when I'm ready for a full-time job. Apart from the degree, here are some of the happy memories I'm taking with me:
  • Everything cataloging-related. My cataloging courses were my favorite LIS classes and my volunteer work at the library was a blast.
  • I also had a great metadata class where I stretched myself to learn completely new and unfamiliar concepts, and even though I'll probably never use these skills I really loved my readers' advisory course with superlibrarian Nancy Pearl.
  • I taught myself html and css well enough to make this portfolio from scratch (no html editing software, thank you very much). If you're at all familiar with the back-end of library catalogs or can imagine you were, it's pretty damn cool. The iSchool liked it enough to use it as one of the sample portfolios on their website.
  • I had some great jobs here--in the library, in admissions, even the fancy soap and silverware store that got me through that first quarter.
  • Speaking of which, I only paid tuition that first quarter and then last summer quarter. All five of my other quarters were paid for either by my admissions job or my FLAS fellowship.
  • And speaking of my FLAS fellowship, the three Spanish classes I took this year were among my favorite classes ever, particularly my play production course (which reminds me--I finally got the DVD of our plays this week so I'll have to figure out how to YouTube a couple scenes).
  • Perhaps one of the best experiences here for our family has been not mine but S-Boogie's--she got to be in a wonderful (and free) preschool program and made some great friends there, at church, and in our apartment complex.
So yeah, overall there has been some real good to come out of these past two years. But I'm ready now to move onto the next phase--my stay-at-home dad phase, Foxy's PhD phase, S-Boogie's kindergarten phase, and Little Dude's Terrible Two phase. Okay, maybe that last part not so much. But still.


Scot said...

Congratulations, Master. And best of luck on what's ahead.

Katya said...

even though I'll probably never use these skills

Oh, you'd be surprised. Every time I learn something or acquire a skill I think I'm never going to need again, I get assigned some weird project at work and it comes up . . .

Mama said...


OK - it's totally corny, but I had to. :)

I didn't walk in college - it seemed anticlimactic. I also eloped, though, so these could be my own issues...

I hope life is wonderful for you!

Anonymous said...

so, quo vadis?
has the superb physical, political climate and intellectual climate of seattle convinced you to stay as long as you can?

B.G. Christensen said...

Thanks, everyone. Yes, santorio, we love Seattle and will stay as long as we can, but unfortunately "as long as we can" is about two and a half more weeks.

John Gustav-Wrathall said...


I had a very similar experience when I got my Ph.D. I too did not participate in the actual graduation ceremony. My parents came to Minneapolis for my dissertation defense (which felt much more significant), but my heart just wasn't in the graduation ceremony.

Like you, I was coming to terms with sexual orientation issues in grad school, which was rough. Toward the end, I just wanted to finish it and get out. (I wrote my dissertation in 8 weeks. One chapter a week. I sent Göran to the Mall of America so as to not be disturbed!)

May you now find the information science job of your dreams!

B.G. Christensen said...

Thanks, John.