Introduction

Portfolio of Cathleen Elizabeth Ash

The last four years have been a whirlwind of high learning curves, intellectual challenges, political nuances, and books. Lots and lots of books. It's a good thing I like them so much!

What started this somewhat frenetic four-year push to complete a second Master's degree? It all began a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...um. Wait. Perhaps I should keep my love of science fiction and fantasy until the conclusion.

Let me begin, instead, back in the day of youth - when I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I seemed to just "walk into" jobs once I'd graduated with a BA in English. From Harvard (as a secretary) to a financial lending institution (no, not a bank; we leased everything from helicopters to the rugs in hospitals), I always loved jobs that challenged me and allowed me to learn. As the financial company worked its way through a myriad of owners, finally downsizing from 270 employees to 17, I realized I needed to actually consider what I wanted to next - and I had a two year commitment as one of the remaining employees during which I could decide. I began night and weekend classes to get a degree in teaching because, let's face it, no one grows up hoping to be a glorified collector and repossess hundreds of tractor trailers from some middle-of-the-country state.

The teaching endeavor was a success, and I taught English from New Hampshire to Korea before settling in Fremont, California as an English Teacher at a non-traditional high school. While Irvington High School is a public school, it embodies many of the new teaching pedagogies with which I agree: block scheduling, engaged students, long-term and hands-on projects that have meaning in the "real world." There are no D's. You either make it, or get No Credit (NC). There are no failures. There is the ability to try and try again (contracts). I love the atmosphere!

I also, however, love computers and all things technical. Hence, I was lured from the not-so-lucrative profession of engaging young minds into the dot-com hysteria of the Bay area. Of course, I was a little late, and my dot-com experience lasted only two years before it dot-bombed. I was, like many other geeks and wanna-be-geeks at the time, unemployed.

I began contracting for myself, posting ads in online newspapers and local directories, and managed to keep myself afloat for a year and a half. When I was in Washington, D.C., on a 6-week project for the FAA, a friend and colleague from Irvington called to say the Library position was open - and asked if I was interested.

What a boon! After much paperwork, and explanation of the conditions that must be met (enrolling in a Libary Media Teacher Certification program), I accepted.

This, then, is the beginning of the story that led me to here, four years later, as a candidate for graduation in the Spring of 2007 from San Jose State University's Master's in Library Information Science program.

What a long, strange trip it's been.

As you peruse this culminating portfolio of statements and evidence summarizing my learning and experience while working as a high school librarian (full-time) and taking two graduate courses a semester (can you say "have no life?"), please know that it could not have happened without the support of colleagues (where I work) and teachers (on the campus) and fellow-students (who worked well in groups!) and friends (who cooked me dinners when I had no time to eat because of deadlines) and family.

The successes in this portfolio are due to them. Any errors or ommissions are all mine.

Enjoy.