Alumni Spotlight: Denyse Sturges, MA-LIS (‘90), Ed.S. (‘02)

Posted in: Alumni | LIS | News | Spotlight
Photo of Denyse Sturges. Photo courtesy of Denyse Sturges.
Photo of Denyse Sturges. Photo courtesy of Denyse Sturges.

Denyse Sturges matriculated through two programs at the MU School of Information Science & Learning Technologies. After graduating with a master’s in library and information science (1990), she later attained an educational specialist degree in educational technologies (2002).

Currently, Sturges serves as engineering and life sciences bibliographer and librarian at the University of North Dakota Chester Fritz Library. She credits her experience at SISLT with helping her warm up to technology, and not be afraid of it. It also led her on a path to a career she enjoys.

Sturges discusses the impact of her SISLT experiences and offers words of wisdom to students who are considering one of our programs.

Why did you select to attend SISLT?

Convenience and availability. After I received my bachelor’s in horticulture from MU, I stayed and worked at the university. During this time, I took a required computer class with Tom Kochtanek where I learned BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) and how to make machines do things. However, after taking Mary Ellen Sievert’s Abstracting and Indexing class, I was hooked and decided to pursue my first master’s in LIS.

Later, I went on to work in an academic library then a special digital library. After about 10 years, I decided to refresh my skills and enroll in SISLT’s Ed Tech program. I was familiar with MU, could easily re-enroll, and was able to take classes online as I worked full-time. After one semester, I realized that I was missing the campus culture, people, face-to-face interactions with classmates, instructors, and staff, as well as Columbia, so I switched to full time enrollment and moved back to Columbia.

How did your program(s) at SISLT impact your career?

SISLT showed me the skills necessary for a life of learning and helped me attain those skills for now and the future. In addition, my SISLT experiences influenced how I teach. Watching my instructors model the behavior of a practicing librarian or faculty member helped me learn to be a better librarian and teacher.

My first job in a library was partly because my faculty mentor, Mary Ellen Sievert, and other SISLT faculty worked and researched with faculty at University of Illinois at Chicago. Having a nationally recognized faculty member as a reference was beneficial.

What did you appreciate most about your experience at SISLT?

The people. The entire school was set up for a positive learning experience. I was able to take risks, try something new, and if I failed — life went on. As an older student returning to school, I appreciated SISLT’s focus on removing administrative hassle. Faculty were not only teachers, they were colleagues.

What advice would you give prospective SISLT students who are considering the LIS program?

As with all of life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. Immerse yourself in everything that is available to you at Mizzou and in the Columbia, Missouri community.

LIS is a fast program — make it a point to meet your classmates and faculty; life is easier when we work together. My mantra is what I was told as I started the program: “Library Land is a very small world. Don’t say (or email) anything you don’t want repeated. Look around at your classmates — you’ll see them again in meetings, conferences, and candidate interviews.” I meet MU librarians at every conference I attend, even here in the rural north!

Enjoy your studies — know that this is a career requiring flexibility, adaptability to change, life-long learning, and a sense of humor. There will be joyous moments in a career that helps people live a better healthier, more full life.