In case anybody is curious to learn more about me, I’ve decided to preemptively interview myself to give some basic background on what I’ve studied, where I’ve worked, the places I’ve traveled to, and what I do for fun. Enjoy!
What is my academic background?
I earned my Bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in both Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science. I graduated with honors in the Spring of 2015, after completing my honors thesis in Political Science. While I started university interested primarily in journalism and investigative reporting (after spending 3 years working on my high school’s newspaper), my focus slowly transitioned over to political science and international relations. I was especially interested in conflict resolution (this may have been influenced by a certain Dr. Elizabeth Weir…) and different types of government (constitutional design… very interesting, very important!). So, I chose to focus my thesis on whether a state’s type of government had any effect on its ability to prevent conflict - specifically, civil war recurrence. Working on the thesis was a great (if grueling) experience, because it was the first time I had ever written a full research paper - from developing a theory… to writing a literature review… to gathering the data… to analyzing the data… and finally presenting/defending my findings.
If you are interested in reading my undergraduate honors thesis, you can find it here.
Actually, my experience working on my thesis is a big part of why I decided to go into LIS. I really liked working with the international political data, and I wanted to be able to help other people who may be struggling through the process of trying to conduct research on a topic with vast amounts of data available… but scattered throughout the interwebs and not in the format needed for their analysis.
What have I been doing since graduation?
When I graduated, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I had conveniently decided after graduating with a degree in Journalism that I did not want to be a journalist (for various reasons, including my fear of confrontational interactions with strangers). I also wasn’t really interested in the types of jobs that poli sci undergrads tend to get straight out of college - I knew that to get a good job I would need a Master’s degree. But what would I get my Master’s in? I wasn’t sure, and that was a decision that I needed to be sure about. So I did the very typical thing that many 20-somethings do when they don’t know what to do with their lives… travel! And what’s the best way to travel without going broke? Teach English!
My first stop was in Budapest, Hungary, where I studied how to teach English as a foreign language for one month and earned my CELTA certification. I traveled around Europe for about a month after that (it was my first time!) before heading back to the states to job search. I found a job teaching at a hagwon in South Korea, and spent 15 months teaching English to kindergartners and elementary school students.
While traveling, I considered a lot of different professional paths. I thought about teaching at international schools, going into publishing, even website development. But the path I finally fell in love with was to become a librarian. In Fall of 2017 I applied to my top 3 schools, and also planned for my next adventure. I had 8 months until school started - more time to travel!
So I went back to Europe, and lived as an Au Pair in Spain for 6 months. I also studied Spanish for the first time since elementary school, which was an oddly fascinating process for me from a linguistic perspective (I never had any hope of becoming fluent… but I loved comparing Spanish to English and observing English’s romantic roots). I also had the opportunity to take a few trips around Europe - a two-week solo trip around Italy, a one-week solo trip to Porto, Portugal, and a one-week trip with my family to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France. My favorite trip was definitely Italy… and I fully intend on going back someday. But for now, I’m back in the states, learning how to be a librarian.
Where have I traveled?
What do I do for fun?
Mostly, I read. Very typical librarian answer, I know! Specifically, I prefer to read science fiction & fantasy books, but recently I’ve been trying to branch out more into non-fiction.
You can see what non-fiction (and some fiction) books I’ve been reading on my books page, The Codex Index.
Some of my favorite sci-fi/fantasy authors (and their series) are:
- Ada Palmer (Terra Ignota)
- Malka Ann Older (Centenal Cycle)
- N.K. Jemisin (Broken Earth, Inheritance)
- Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels, Innkeeper)
- Eliot Peper (Analog)
- Pierce Brown (Red Rising)
- Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel)
- Anne Bishop (Black Jewels Trilogy, The Others)
- Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson)
- Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock)
- Sharon Shinn (Samaria)
- Tamora Pierce (Tortall)
- Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time)
- Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, Stormlight Archive)
- Jo Walton (Thessaly)
- Seanan McGuire (October Daye)
- … and this list could go on and on and on…
I also like to watch sci-fi/fantasy TV shows and movies! Some of my favorites shows are:
- The Expanse
- The 100
- Game of Thrones
- Doctor Who
- Stargate (SG1, Atlantis, & Universe)
- Battlestar Galactica (the one from this century)
- Black Mirror
- Orphan Black
As far as more social activities go, I love to play board games. My all-time favorite game (at the moment) is Scythe, and I generally prefer strategy games (Catan, Terra Mystica, Chess). I also enjoy social deduction games (Resistance, Avalon, Secret Hitler), deck-building games (Tyrants of the Underdark, Smash-Up, Clank!, Netrunner), and wordplay games (Codenames, Bananagrams).
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Champaign-Urbana has a thriving board game community. There are multiple board game groups - including one specific to the iSchool! - as well as board game design groups/competitions and board game conventions. Even if I wanted to devote all of my extracurricular time only to board games, I wouldn’t be able to do everything. It’s really an amazing community!