Jeannine Hunter (’05) accepted a position as a writer for the Children’s National Health System website. The hospital is located in Washington, D.C. (http://www.childrensnational.org/). Hunter previously worked as an online editor and web producer for the Washington Post. She still contributes stories to the paper as a freelance writer.
Hunter has also created communication materials such as white papers, reports and brochures for nonprofit organizations before joining Children’s National in late September. In her new role she will write content for the website while working with the website redesign team. Why writing? Hunter’s undergraduate degree in Communication Arts was earned at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.
Working as a journalist through much of her graduate school experience at The University of Tennessee, Hunter found her way to UT through a friend’s insight. Hunter’s friend saw a piece in the Oak Ridge, TN newspaper about scholarship opportunities at the UT School of Information Sciences. She was keenly interested in children’s literature and saw herself as a librarian.
“After looking over the website and other materials, I still didn’t grasp all of the possibilities available to me with a degree in Information Sciences,” said Hunter. “As I began the program, the options unfolded with each course I took.” During her time as an SIS student, Hunter lived in Knoxville at first and volunteered at the Haley Farm – Children’s Defense Fund (http://www.childrensdefense.org/about-us/haley-farm/) just outside of Knoxville. In that volunteer role, she worked with the librarian to assist with collection development and to incorporate the donations provided by Barnes and Noble. Hunter was a classmate of Theresa Venable who is now Librarian and Programs Coordinator for the Haley Farm and CCI Board of Visitor’s member.
Hunter also worked on a project in the newsroom library at the Knoxville News-Sentinel while a student and as a religion reporter. She also conducted media workshops for student leaders undergoing Freedom School training as well as helped set up and clean up before and after different events such as the annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry held at the Haley Farm.
During the latter part of Hunter’s grad school experience she moved to Nashville to take a job as a reporter for The Tennessean. “Being a journalist is not a 9 to 5 job,” remarked Hunter. “The distance education advantage was huge for me. It also taught me the real meaning of being a Tennessee Volunteer and it has nothing to do with sports.” Hunter was assigned to follow a group of Middle Tennessee volunteers who headed to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She found her professors were very understanding of her challenges in joining the class during those difficult days. Moreover, some of her classmates had been directly affected by the storm. “We rallied to support and encourage each other during those dark days. We even collected donations as a group. Seeing the compassion poured out in Louisiana and by my classmates, even though we attended class virtually, brought home the meaning of what it means to be a Tennessee Volunteer. It’s a role I relish to this day.”
Hunter is grateful for the IMLS grant that enabled her studies at UT. The scholarship was funded to encour- age diversity students to seek degrees in Information Sciences. It also provided a laptop and other needed technology. Through her degree in Information Sciences, Hunter has gained an awareness of a whole different world. She learned the LIS field is much broader than just the Dewey Decimal System. It encompasses literacy, technology and problem solving by identifying, collecting and storing retrievable information. It transcends many disciplines.
Content management awareness was a concept introduced to Hunter through her studies. She also gained exposure to diverse authors, international experiences and found a respect for the scholarship her professors brought to the classroom.
Hunter cites some of the most impactful SIS courses as major contributors to her career path. Among them was Dr. Bharat Mehra’s course on diversity literature because it taught her to be sensitive to issues new to her and she really liked the challenging class assignments. Dr. Dania Bilal’s web centric class had direct application to the work she was doing at the time. The technical search skills were invaluable then and now. Other classes on understanding HTML, web editors, and website creation provided skills she has used in successive roles as a web producer and editor. It gave her a good foundation and confidence to continue to grow her knowledge as Internet capabilities have expanded.
Hunter advises current SIS students to enjoy their experience and the process. She advocates stretching beyond one’s comfort zone and to take classes outside of their planned program if possible. “Open your mind to new or at least complimentary paths to your planned program,” said Hunter.
To prospective UT SIS students, Hunter confirms that the high ranking and ALA accreditation of the pro- gram are well deserved. The strength of the SIS faculty’s experience and research, keeps them relevant. “SIS faculty are shaping the current day LIS theory and practice,” Hunter noted. She felt her professors were not hand-holders but were very caring and friendly. She found value in getting to know them. The ability to customize her coursework rather than being tracked by a cookie cutter program enabled Hunter to carve out her own destiny. She encourages students to explore the courses within the program and to not prejudge a class or field.
“I chose a non-traditional IS career path but, frankly what makes the UT SIS program work is its variety,” observed Hunter. “It allows folks from different fields and disciplines to find their way; the best path for them.”
Want to read some of Jeannine Hunter’s work? http://www.washingtonpost.com/jeannine-hunter/2012/06/28/gJQA8GtQ9V_page.html