Series: DLIS Alumni in Higher Education Administration

sju crestStephen Vivona, a Writer for St. John’s in the Office of Marketing worked in a library for years before pursuing his MLS degree at St. John’s. Although becoming a librarian was never his ambition in life, Stephen sat down to tell me just how applicable his MLS degree has been in all aspects of his daily life.

Stephen began working as a page in a Long Island public library with his high school friends.  He and his friends enjoyed the quiet and calm atmosphere of a library much more than a stereotypical teenage employer, Burger King. Stephen maintained his position at the library while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in communications here at St. John’s and well into his professional life until 2010.

The MLS was the backup plan. Being so familiar with libraries Stephen found it to be the most practical and applicable Master’s degree. Writing is Stephen’s true passion, but if for whatever reason he no longer has the opportunity to write for a living, he will never need to “start from scratch.” Stephen sees LIS as a good base, stating, “even if I never become a librarian or use the degree, I still came away with practical tools that help in my job and day-to-day life.”

Currently, Stephen writes articles, advertisements and brochures, banners, commencement scripts and St. John’s email blasts for the university. He recently attended the DLIS ‘Libraries Change Lives’ event at the Oakdale campus to write an article detailing the current reputable actions of his old program. As a writer, Stephen finds many of the skills obtained from pursuing the MLS degree are quite applicable in his current position. Organization of information plays a key role in the life of a writer. As does fact-checking of primary sources, and the ability to dig deeper than the “first choice from Google.” Earning his MLS gave Stephen a better idea of where to look for reputable, credible and reliable information as well as what information and sources to avoid.

In speaking with Stephen about the current program, he reminisces about starting the program in the early 2000s. The program he was a part of was just experiencing the digital explosion of the time, introducing the first set of online courses.   If he could go back to the program today, Stephen believes he would be most interested in archives and genealogy.  He is fascinated by today’s digitization projects, providing the greatest access and availability for research.

Stephen has taken to utilizing his degree outside of the office as well. Currently, he is composing a family archive and cites his LIS degree as the reason he knows where to obtain his family records. Again, the applicability and adaptability of an LIS degree proves it to be a worthwhile investment.

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