Summer program lets student experience graduate study at iSchool

Nicole A. Cooke
Nicole A Cooke, Associate Professor and MS/LIS Program Director

Thanks to a summer program at the University of Illinois, Melanie Nernberg, an undergraduate student from California, can work with an iSchool faculty member and learn about the graduate school experience. 

The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) brings to campus talented undergraduate students from populations underrepresented in graduate education so they can experience graduate study and research. Students benefit from the opportunity to develop important relationships with faculty and learn from them as well as about the culture and expectations of graduate school. 

"Through this experience, SROP participants gain the insight, validation, and support to apply to and enroll in competitive graduate programs across the country," said Moises Orozco Villicana, the iSchool's director of enrollment management. 

Nernberg, a global studies and sociology major from Sonoma State University, applied to SROP because of her interest in pursuing an MS in library and information science at the iSchool. Nicole A. Cooke, assistant professor and MS/LIS program director, serves as her faculty mentor for the program. 

Nicole Cooke & Melanie Nernberg

Nernberg is writing a literature review and proposal for a future project on the competency of sci-tech librarians without science or technical backgrounds. She came up with her proposal after spending time at the Mathematics Library and Grainger Engineering Library at Illinois.

"At my school in California, we have subject librarians but not specialized libraries like Illinois, so the concept fascinated me," Nernberg explained. "I was especially interested in science and technical libraries, because I wondered what tasks differentiated librarians who work at these libraries compared to general and other specialized academic libraries." 

In her paper, she proposes conducting a qualitative study to update the literature with current data from the perspectives of library schools, sci-tech librarians, students and faculty served by sci-tech librarians, and the librarians' supervisors. 

In the future, Nernberg would like to work as an academic librarian, specializing in data librarianship and social sciences research.

"My experience at SROP has brought clarity on my future career goals and helped me develop lasting connections with my peers and the faculty at Illinois," she said. "I will carry the valuable lessons I have learned from this experience with me as I move forward in my academic career as a graduate student and beyond. I am forever grateful for this program and the SROP family I have found through it."

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