Graduate aims for a career at Buffalo Bill Center of the West
When Julie Edholm sits down to work as a metadata cataloger for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, she describes and assigns subject headings to items in the Winchester Repeating Arms collection and Winchester Publication collection at the Cody Firearms Museum, Cody, Wyoming.
She was offered a job with the Buffalo Bill Center after completing an internship there, part of her coursework in the online Master of Science in Library Science program at Clarion University. The internship, during which she worked with the library's archivist to process the MS 50 Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads collection and established proficiency in cataloging, brought into focus concepts that she had learned in class.
Edholm's path to her career isn't dissimilar to that of a cowboy in the wild west: long, slow, winding and with many stops. She grew up in Orem, Utah, and graduated from Brigham Young University in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in music. Her instrument of emphasis was piano, but she also played harp and clarinet. After graduating, Edholm work in customer support for WordPerfect Corporation and played harp at events. She left WordPerfect when her first child was born.
As Edholm and her husband's family grew to include eight children, Edholm focused on being a full-time mom. She continued to play harp at events and taught music lessons, but most of her activities centered around her children. For 12 years, she volunteered, telling stories at the local public library's storytime. She loved it. She applied for a paid position to supplement the family's income when her husband lost his business due to economic downturn.
"I started working at the library 10 to 12 hours a week and, over the course of five
years, I moved up from a library assistant to a community relations specialist to,
finally, a full-time associate children's librarian," she said.
That's when she started to think about going back to school for her master's degree in library science. With a full-time job and young children at home, Edholm didn't think it was a good time. That changed when her husband was offered a job in rural Wyoming, and the family moved.
"My youngest was in school, I didn't have to work, and I thought it was the perfect time to go back to school," Edholm said. "I wanted to be more marketable, and I knew a master's degree would give me that extra edge that experience alone would not."
The nearest school that offered a master's in library science was 400 miles away, so she began to research online options.
"I researched around 10 schools that were accredited," she said. "I chose Clarion
because I did not have to travel there at all, and it was less expensive than the
others. I applied and was accepted for the spring semester of 2016."
Initially, Edholm said it was easy to get her homework done while her kids were at school. She took on part-time work, though, and her studying schedule changed to Mondays and Saturdays, plus lunch hours at work. The flexibility of online education allowed her to work, be involved in her children's activities and in her community, and pursue her master's degree.
"It was a very busy time for me and my family, but they were really supportive, and
we all survived," Edholm said.
She also found the Clarion faculty to be very supportive.
"During this time, my mother passed away in the middle of a summer term, and my professor, Dr. Aristeguieta, was very accommodating, as I had to travel to the funeral in a different state," she said.
That same level of academic support was evident.
"My professors were excellent in communicating and joining in the discussion boards, having live lectures and responding promptly to my emails," Edholm said. "I felt like they wanted me to succeed."