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.