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The accidental master’s degree

Posted by Margaret MacQuarrie on May 30, 2023 in News

Kaitlyn Greer (MIM’23) is a big believer in being open to where life takes you, because one experience may be all it takes to change your plans for the better.

It’s happened to her more than once.

The first time was while she was taking a history course as part of her BA. “I was in Barkerville, which is a goldrush town in interior BC. I was doing research on these historical events…but I fell in love with archives and records management. I never really considered information management as a career path until then. I was planning on being a history teacher.”

Pursuing her new passion, she enrolled in the Master of Information, with specialization in archives, records management and library science at the University of Toronto in 2011. Kaitlyn then worked for a short time as an archivist, primarily in church archives, and processing records for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was important work, but life was calling her back home to BC.

Fast forward to 2019 and Kaitlyn was well established as a policy coordinator at Northern Health. She had also added a certificate in health information management to her master’s degree. But as a dedicated life-long learner, she decided it was time for more professional development. That led her to Dalhousie, and another unexpected spin.

“I stumbled across [Dalhousie’s Master of Information Management program] and thought ‘That’s exactly what I’m looking for!’ The curriculum was perfectly aligned with my work and my professional interests because it focused on information and privacy.”

She wasn’t planning on getting a second master’s degree, she was initially interested in only the one course but “after I finished the first course, I started looking at the next one — not committing to doing the whole program, just saying ‘OK, what else is being offered?’ Then by the time I finished that second course I knew I was going to see it through.”

Kaitlyn was hooked by how practical and applicable the program was. “It was so different from the one I did 10 years ago because it moved theory into practice. The course load is manageable [Kaitlyn had twins while taking the program!] and they encourage you to explore projects or assignments that are relevant to you and your work. I was able to directly apply every course I took to what I was doing.”

Connections are often just as important as the curriculum content and Kaitlyn points to two who were invaluable for her.

“Dr. Alison Brown’s guidance was exactly what I needed for my capstone project. I conducted an evaluative study for Northern Health where I looked at supporting the access and retrieval of policies for my organization. I put all of the skills from that into practice every day now.

“I also had user experience, and records management with Dr. Jamila Ghaddar. Her perspective and approach really pushed the boundaries on our discipline; it was a privilege to learn from her as well.”

Kaitlyn would encourage anyone considering the program to just start it and see where it takes them. “You don’t have to have a plan beforehand. I didn’t. What I love about the program is that you can do three courses and come out with a graduate certificate, or you can do six and have a degree. Or just do one because the topic interests you. I recommend it to anyone who wants to deepen their learning around information and information management.”