A Wonderful Sense of Accomplishment & Personal Fulfillment:
One of the things that prompted me to write this post now is my own reaction to receiving my diploma in the mail last week. I was utterly surprised by the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment that I felt when I saw the actual piece of paper for the first time. Regardless of the worth of the program, the value of the MLS, the positive experiences or the negative ones, I am deeply proud of myself for going to graduate school and completing the MLS program at SCSU. It wasn’t easy. I learned a great deal. There were many challenges, and I think that I met them in a appropriate manner. Personally, I got something important and fulfilling out of my graduate school experience – and this is worth a great deal to me.
Also, I was going through this blog last week, reading some of the posts about my negative experiences at SCSU. More about some of these will come when I get to the Ugly post. However, I was reminded about something my mom said to me once when I was talking to her about a particularly awful class that I had when I was in college. My mom told me that she agreed with me about the quality of the class (it was a dogmatic ethics class based in theology where there was no room for discussion or disagreement – something with which I was quite uncomfortable), but she thought I should try to look at the experience in a different light. From her perspective, she saw the hours and hours that I spent talking about the class with her and my dad – discussing my thoughts about the course material; arguing why the professor’s logic was faulty; developing my own sense of what it meant to be ethical. Possibly without meaning to, that professor made me think more than most others. My mom was right. There is something critical to be learned from bad experiences. I can’t change the bad experiences, the bad classes, the bad professors, but I can take something positive from them and try to learn from them. As I thought back to this discussion with my mom, I realized that I did learn something from each bad experience at SCSU. These experiences did not ruin my education. They changed the direction that my education took. Would I pay for some of the classes that I took again? Absolutely NOT! Despite this fact, I did use the bad experiences to make the rest of my journey a more fulfilling one. I gave more of myself to my remaining classes because it was important that I not let myself get mired in negativity.
My Advisor – Dr. James Kusack:
The unsung hero of my graduate school experience is my advisor, Dr. James Kusack (I did ask if I could mention him by name). I feel truly lucky to have worked with him and even luckier to have studied with him. He is a wonderful teacher – and way by far the best teacher from my time at SCSU in the online environment. He was engaged in each class that I took with him; he participated actively in online discussion; he was incredibly responsive to student inquiries; he graded assignments with tremendous speed, yet in such a way that revealed he had indeed taken time to read the submissions; he gave tremendous feedback at every opportunity; and he seemed to truly enjoy teaching. I agonized over many of his assignments – mostly since many of his management exercises seemed to overlap with the reality of daily life in an academic library. However, I learned a great deal from them.
I’m not sure that I was able to appropriately than Dr. Kusack. I came close to leaving the program last summer – mostly because there were several months where I really believed that many of the ILS administrators at SCSU had little regard for the distance ILS program and its students. Dr. Kusack reminded me that there were people at SCSU that did care, and I am extremely grateful for this. I do wish that I could have taken a face-to-face class with Dr. Kusack. It is very strange to get to know people without ever having met them in the physical world. Regardless, Dr. Kusack was one of the best experiences from my time at SCSU.
ILS680 – Evaluation & Research & The Research Project:
The thing that surprised and shocked me the most was ILS680-Evaluation & Research. I can tell you that I was petrified about taking this class. Students talked about how difficult this class was – and I got too caught up in that. Additionally, I wasn’t entirely sure how valuable a research class would actually be. After all, I was a history major in college – and had written many, many research papers in my day. This meant that I was expecting the class to be lots and lots of work with little reward. Boy, was I wrong. ILS680 ended up being my favorite class. It was extremely difficult. There was so much work to do in a short amount of time. However, the professor had a suggested timeline. I admit that I got sidetracked a couple of times, but I was able to get myself back on track.
Additionally, writing the paper for this class was extremely fulfilling. I was so utterly amazed – and happy – with the end result. As I think I have mentioned before, this was the perfect ending to my MLS experience. It really served as a capstone experience for which I was able to pull together much of what I had learned.
So really, I did have some great experiences!