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Student Spotlight: Jared Uncles Pursues Librarianship As a Way to Make a Difference

Jared UnclesStudent Spotlight features one our current School of Information Sciences Master students. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, careers, locations, and academics, and we want to highlight who they are and why they chose the University of Tennessee, Knoxville SIS program.

Featured Student: Jared Uncles

Current job: TSA - Transportation Security Officer for TSA at McGhee Tyson Airport

Location: Originally from Keyport, New Jersey; moved from Missoula, Montana, to Knoxville to attend the SIS program.

Education: Bachelor of Arts in History, University of Montana

Past jobs: Transferred from the same position at Missoula International Airport prior to moving to Knoxville. Before that, was in the Army for 2.5 years before getting injured and being medically discharged.

Family: My wife, Amelia, and I moved here from Montana so I could go to the graduate program. It was the perfect scenario for us because my wife had never moved out of Montana and her brother and his wife lived in Nashville. It felt like a good opportunity for us, there were more job opportunities. We’ve been here since March, and I think we’re actually going back to Montana after this coming spring semester and I’ll continue the program through distance education.

Why UTK: When I looked at all the programs they all seemed really similar and it wasn’t until I spoke to Dr. Fleming-May on email and then on the phone that I knew this is where I wanted to go. Between the background of the program, and the instructors, it seemed like a program where mediocrity wasn’t going to be accepted, that I’d really have to push myself; I wanted to be challenged in what I did. It’s also been nice living near family, and seeing my niece in Nashville. We’d never lived in the South before, and for us, it was a totally different experience, which has been nice.

Why SIS: I have always been interested in becoming a librarian and information science seemed the best way to go about that. I was blown away when I started the program with all the different avenues you could go down. Public libraries is what I am most interested in, and nonprofit work. That’s what I want to get involved with when I finish school.

Challenges: I graduated from the University of Montana in 2010, so this is my first time back in school in eight years. Going back to school was scary, it was pretty terrifying at first, to be honest. I still have a nice complex of imposter syndrome every time we go through class. Just opening the computer and doing assignments – but thankfully I have three instructors that have made the transition into school work very easy. Dr. Hank provides amazing feedback on assignments that lets us know what to do to be successfully. Dr. Awa really explains things well, in a way that we can understand it. Dr. Bishop has this wonderful way of taking content that some people could take to be really dry and he makes it really fun and engaging.

Pathway: I’d ideally like to be in public library, but after that, I want to go to places like Syria and Iraq and work with nonprofits physically building new libraries in countries like that. I want to solve these problems and physically go fix them.

Fun Fact: I’m the president of the Special Libraries Association, which really isn’t about libraries, but what you want to do as an information professional. There are student organizations within the program which allow you to explore all different avenues of what you might be interested in. Initially everyone thinks, it’s library school, I’m going to a public library or into archives – which sure, you can do that if that’s what you want to do, but you have flexibility in your options.