Taking time and giving thought to what makes me different or diverse was a tough exercise in self-exploration. I feel like I’ve spent most of my life trying NOT to be different – a practice formed from my earliest days in elementary school which carried right on into and through high school. In an environment where you’re made fun of for being different, I found it was easier to keep your head down, not make waves and just try to be like everyone else. At that age, most people just want acceptance.
As an adult, I can finally see the ridiculousness of such thoughts and actions. And, as an adult, I’m not afraid to stand out and be different. When thinking about what makes me stand-out, the first thing that comes to mind is my profession. I enjoy the reaction of people when they ask me what I do, and I proudly reply: I’m a librarian! Then, of course, come the ubiquitous comments: you must love to read or you must know all about the Dewey Decimal System, can you explain it to me? My response to both is NO. I’m not an avid reader that most people think I should be, and I don’t know the Dewey Decimal System. I guess you’ll have to find another librarian that conforms to your ideals!
Being a librarian is something I never aspired to be. In fact, it never crossed my radar until about four years ago. When struggling with what type of advanced degree to pursue, I met some wonderfully interesting and inspiring librarians. I applied to library school and here I am!
OK – not quite that simple. I have experienced some major life events along the way before I arrived here in eastern North Carolina. I am originally from Ohio but have also live in Florida and Maryland –from the comforts of the Midwest, to the slower southern ways of life in the Florida panhandle, to the busy, competitive environment of the D.C. suburbs. I have traveled within Europe and the Middle East. I know what it’s like to be in a place where you don’t speak the local language, what it’s like to be treated as a second-class citizen simply because I’m a woman, and having to cover my body from head to toe before entering a mosque.
Clearly, these are all experiences that can’t be found in any one setting, but they’ve made me who I am; they make me unique and diverse, and as I continue on my journey, I will continue to embrace every moment of the experiences that make me diverse!
Jennifer is the liaison librarian to the College of Nursing.