Hello Capstone Students:
I’m Jeana McClure, PSU Class of 2012. My journey to commencement was completed in fits and starts over a span of 31 years. In 2009, I decided I wanted to get my master’s in library science, but needed to finish my BA first. I didn’t only want to “be done,” however, I wanted to learn something interesting.
When I applied to PSU, I chose the Applied Linguistics program. That turned out to be an excellent decision: Linguistics made sense of everything I’d studied and experienced to that point. Through linguistics, I realized my greatest interest is in literacy issues, particularly in early childhood. Choosing Enhancing Youth Literacy as my capstone class was a no-brainer decision. I learned so much in class and through volunteering at the Charles Jordan Community Center preschool.
That wasn’t my first experience volunteering with young children, fortunately! I volunteered for five years with the SMART program (Start Making a Reader Today). SMART is a fantastic program for children in grades K-3, delivered by a nonprofit organization through the public school system. SMART volunteers read with the same child for half an hour, every week, modeling literate behavior and providing one-to-one support. If you have time during the school day, and can commit to visiting once a week for the duration of the school year, SMART is hugely rewarding, and a simple way (there’s no wrong way to read with a child!) to become involved with your community.
When I started classes at PSU, I wasn’t able to continue volunteering with SMART. I missed the interaction with the kids, and also realized that if I want to be a librarian, I probably should spend time in a library! In 2010, I volunteered with the Multnomah County Library Summer Reading Program, and at the end of that summer was asked to continue at the Belmont branch as a Story Time volunteer. This will be my fourth year volunteering with the library. In July, I’m adding another volunteer opportunity working with adults, as the Talk Time facilitator at the Gregory Heights library branch. Talk Time is an informal way for non-native English learners to practice their conversational skills.
The key to long-term volunteer engagement has been the ability to focus on an area that’s important to me — literacy — and to contribute in ways that are meaningful. For me, that’s hands-on work with children. For someone else, that might be through advocacy and involvement in public policy decisions. For yet another someone, that might be through making financial contributions.
I still work full-time, and started my MLS program eight short weeks after commencement. That alone is more than enough to keep me busy (I’ll be reading all those books in the photo for my Young Adult services class this summer!). However, being part of my library community is so rewarding that I can’t imagine giving it up. Instead, I give up things like cleaning. I’d rather spend Saturday mornings singing Wheels on the Bus with a group of 3-year-olds than dusting my bookshelves!
I hope you’ve gotten as much value out of your capstone experience as I did (thanks, Zapoura!), and that you’ve been inspired to stay engaged when classes are over. Congratulations on your impending graduation!