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Online master's program helps WSU student advance career from the East Coast
Like many Wayne State University graduate students, Claudia Flores works hard to balance the demands of part-time coursework with those of a 40-hour work week. It helps that she loves her classes and she loves her job, as a library associate at the Plainfield Public Library.
The one in Plainfield, New Jersey.
Yep, Flores lives 600 miles from Wayne State’s main campus, but thanks to the university’s fully online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) option – which extends in-state tuition rates to students anywhere in the world – neither distance nor price is an obstacle for Flores in her quest for an affordable degree from an American Library Association (ALA)-certified program.
Paying for school is even easier now for Flores, who at the age of 13 moved with her family from Bolivia to Texas, thanks to a recent scholarship the ALA affiliate REFORMA. The REFORMA Scholarship provides financial assistance to graduates students of library and information science who are Spanish-speakers or who wish to serve Latinos or Spanish-speaking populations.
Flores enrolled in Wayne State’s MLIS program to take her career to the next level.
“I’ve been doing programming for the Plainfield Public Library –– and I’ve had a lot of very supportive coworkers all urging me to go back to school,” said Flores, praising in particular the encouragement of the library’s director, Joseph Da Rold, who received the New Jersey Library Association’s 2010 New Jersey Librarian of the Year Award. “I’m so happy with where I work, and I realized that if I’m going to stay here then I have to go back to school to get an advanced degree.”
Flores said programming is her passion. The Plainfield Public Library enjoys a diverse clientele, she notes, with a high percentage of African Americans, Hispanics and Arabs. To celebrate and integrate the community’s cultures, Flores recently recruited parents to participate in a multicultural story time for children. Speaking Arabic, French, Mandarin, Spanish, and American Sign Language, the parents created a rich and engaging program that continued for three months. She plans on repeating the program in the future.
Flores, who received a bachelor’s in communication at Kean University in Union, N.J., considered numerous online MLIS programs and said Wayne State’s customer service and financial assistance were the biggest draw. Academic Advisor Matthew Fredericks gave her quick, thorough and friendly guidance from the moment she first contacted the school with questions, she said, and suggested she apply for a School of Library and Information Science New Student Scholarship, which she won.
“That scholarship was the deciding factor for me, because I really did not have the money to go back to school,” said Flores, who has since also won an ALA Spectrum Scholarship, which are awarded to address the under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians. “If I hadn’t won that New Student Scholarship from Wayne State, I might never have started.”
Enrolled since April, Flores is finding her online coursework “demanding” and “amazing.”
I’m learning so much,” she said. “I can’t believe how it has opened my eyes to what I thought was the field and what it really is. I’m just all together very happy with the education, the program, the staff. Everything.”
Flores is pictured at the Plainfield Public Library