This post was written by Lana Mason, Processing Student Assistant. Lana has an Associate of Arts degree in Fine Arts from Piedmont Virginia Community College. She recently earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History at George Mason University. Lana was the recipient of the University Libraries Student Assistant Scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year. Lana has been a beloved member of the SCRC and URM team, and though she will be greatly missed, we wish her well on her journey to graduate school! Congratulations Lana!
It’s finally happened—on May 22, 2020, at long last, I received my Bachelor of Arts in Art History from George Mason University (GMU). However, this exciting accomplishment comes paired with one I’ve admittedly anticipated less enthusiastically. As my time as a student at GMU is finished, so I am also finishing my time as a student assistant at the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and University Records Management (URM).
Two and a half years ago, in January 2018, I was beginning my first semester as an undergraduate transfer student here at Mason. While I was certain of what I wanted to do in an abstract sense—help others—I knew I needed to gain experience in a field before I could be sure it was a good fit for myself and my ambitions. I had explored a variety of career options and was specifically interested in the field of archives. It seemed like a perfect choice that merged both my goals and my personal strengths. I hoped to find an opportunity at some point to work in an archives but didn’t imagine it would be as accessible as it ended up being. I felt incredibly lucky when I learned that SCRC was hiring student workers right when I began my search for work.
I don’t know how or when I might have found a comparable work opportunity if it were not for SCRC, and I can’t overstate the value that I’ve gained from holding this position. Working here has affirmed my interest in archives and has given me countless opportunities to learn important skills and develop a familiarity with the theory behind the profession.
I came into my position at URM through a similarly serendipitous turn of events. Since beginning at SCRC, I had also developed a curiosity about the world of records management. As I’ve written about in a previous blog post, it seemed that records management was a complementary field to archives. I learned that URM was looking for a student assistant and I quickly jumped on the chance, excited to learn more about the field that seemed both similar and entirely different from what I had already gained experience in.
My work at URM has proved to be immensely impactful, much like my work at SCRC. The strategic challenges of handling living records and the opportunities to connect with the people who work in offices across the university have both helped me to expand my professional skill set and connected me more meaningfully with the university itself.
As I prepare to enter graduate school, where I will be pursuing my Master of Science in Library and Information Science, I find within myself with a deep sense of gratitude for what my work here at Mason has given me. I will always remember this time fondly. The opportunities I have had access to through Mason, through SCRC and URM, and through the kind, supportive people I’ve been so lucky to work alongside have empowered me to continue succeeding for the rest of my life.
Banner image: Detail from Faculty member, talking at the podium at the winter graduation, January 15, 1977, R0135B14P002_01, George Mason University Broadside photograph collection, R0135, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries
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