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SC&I’s history as a leader in information science and technology drew my interest
Stephanie Nakamura, MI ’22, a native of Hawaii, shares positive insights about her distance learning experience

SC&I’s Master of Information (MI) students can complete their degrees through the MI program’s online learning option. Stephanie Nakamura, MI’22, reflects on what she calls the “gift” of her information science education.

What led you to pursue the MI at SC&I and specifically the Library and Information Science (LIS) concentration?
After completing a thesis that focused in part on postcard photographs of the Red Baron and other World War I combat pilots, I was surprised by the relatable nature of these photographs. I realized I was able to examine them only because someone took the time to digitize and organize them. I became increasingly interested in learning how librarians maintain and increase access to humanities resources digitally so I looked for a LIS program that had a focus on technology. Learning that the Rutgers iSchool had a history as a leader in information science and technology drew my interest. Working in support staff positions in an academic library made me comfortable with the boots-on-the-ground work of running a circulation desk and interlibrary loan services, and I became interested in diving into information science and discovering my niche.
Congratulations on receiving the Friends of the Library, Kona (F.O.L.K.) scholarship. Share what that means to you. 
The Friends of the Libraries, Kona, is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, and they have been very gracious as they helped to fund my education at Rutgers last year as well. This scholarship means a great deal, as it is a concrete example of how this journey in information science education is a gift. The librarian and professor who wrote letters recommending me for this scholarship have kindly rooted for me for years, and I’m grateful to have their continued support.
You live and work in Hawaii and are completing your degree through the MI’s online learning option. How do you balance work and school?
I entered the program working full-time in a new position at a school library, and this has been both challenging and rewarding! The MI program is rigorous; I’ve learned that an MI student needs to be passionate, motivated, and even stubborn. Pursuing the MI is a big commitment, but it is not something one does alone. I thank God for my family and friends who have been so patient and supportive. Please note that even in a fully online setting, support comes from those who make up the program as well; each professor I have taken a course from has been reachable and kind. I also found that my classmates come from a variety of backgrounds, and I have enjoyed learning about their experiences. It is encouraging to see others pressing forth on this journey beside you!

“The MI program is rigorous; I’ve learned that an MI student needs to be passionate, motivated, and even stubborn.”

Describe your career aspirations and how you anticipate SC&I and the MI major will prepare you for that. 
I hope to work in both historical archives and education. Last semester, I got to take Learning Theory, Inquiry, and Instructional Design and learned how to create a guided inquiry unit focused on a historical topic. I also got to build my first LibGuide in Search and the Information Landscape, and it was exciting to learn how to share several favorite archival and museum resources in one location while also teaching about searching. I’m confident the MI program will continue to prepare me, and I’m looking forward to taking archives and preservation courses in the fall.
I want to note that the skills I received from this program so far have also had an immediate application in my current work as a library technology assistant in a school library, and this has been very rewarding. Introduction to Information Technologies provided coding skills I was able to put to use working on a library webpage. I also had a fun opportunity to explore child-friendly metadata schema in Human Information Behavior, and what I learned enriched my work in the catalog to help improve the children’s search experience.
What are you looking forward to as you complete your MI degree?
I’m excited about continuing to gain new skills and insights and learning from professors and students in the archives and preservation niche. Overall, I’m looking forward to continuing to work in education while moving toward a specialized knowledge of archives and the connections between archives and education.
What advice do you have for someone considering applying to SC&I’s MI program?
The MI program is a great place for both those with an interdisciplinary approach and those who have a specific specialization in mind. I recommend getting in touch with SC&I as soon as you have any interest at all and asking your questions. They are very approachable and nice.
Photo credit: Stephanie Nakamura, MI ’22
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