Grad School: An Interview with Brystan Strong

Brystan Strong is 2013 graduate of Southern Oregon University; She works at the Jackson County Library Services and is completing a Masters in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University.

EB: What is your graduate program like? What courses do you take and what sorts of things are/were you reading?

BS: My graduate program is a distance learning program, so it takes place completely online. It is a combination of email and forum discussions, video lectures, and video conferencing for live presentations. I am currently going for my MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science) with a focus on Public Librarianship and more specifically Teen/YA programming. Most of what I am reading is academic articles from journals such as Youth Library Journal, ALA (American Library Association) and a lot of teen/tween lit. Although the majority of the classes I take revolve around teen/YA programming, I’ve also taken courses in history, database building, cataloging, and library management.

EB: How has your experience so far shaped your career goals?

BS: I’ve always known that I wanted to work with teens outside of a traditional school environment, but now I am looking at other environments even outside of a traditional library setting. I’m looking at careers in Juvenile Detention Centers, or youth centers.

EB: What is/was the most rewarding part and the most challenging?

BS: The most challenging part is definitely the fact that it is online. I don’t know what my classmates look like, what my teachers look like, and there isn’t a specific time that I have to go to class so I have to be very on top of my game and my time management. Also, completing group projects when everyone in your group is in a different time zone is very difficult. However, overcoming these obstacles, hearing praise from teachers, finishing projects are all very rewarding.

EB: What’s been your focus and how has grad school changed you?

BS: When I was getting my undergrad, I was focused on how what I was learning, what I was doing, could help make me a better person. The question was “how can this make me, a better me?” In graduate school it has shifted to “how can what I am learning here help me to help other people?”

EB: Any advice for students considering going on for more school?

BS: Be confident. I notice that at this point in my education, my professors expect me to act like I am already a professional in this field. I have to write with a lot more academic confidence, and own whatever I say. There isn’t much room to be wishy-washy. Be confident in what you know, be confident that you can learn what you need to know, and be confident in what you produce.

EB: What’s next for you?

BS: Right now I am working 2 jobs and going to school full-time. Thankfully, one of my jobs is in a library, so my goal right now is to be able to get out of retail, whether that is by getting a second library job or increasing my hours at my current library job. I also want to continue my research into alternative youth library programs.

EB: Thanks for talking with us.

BS: You’re welcome

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels was released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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