Candice LaPlante

Candice LaPlante ’11

Howard-Suamico, Wisconsin

St. Kate’s program: Master of Library and Information Science, with a focus on international librarianship

Activities: MLIS Student Governance Organization

How did you choose St. Kate’s?
“I first learned about St. Kate's library and information science program from an American woman while serving as a public health Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. Once I came back to the United States, I immediately looked into St. Kate’s MLIS program. While touring the St. Paul campus with my mom in summer 2008, I found some crafts created by the women I had worked with on the coast of Kenya in the University’s gift shop. 

“Kenya was such an important time in my life, and seeing this common thread here at this school was a compelling enough reason for me to come to St. Kate’s. Clearly, the University had a global view, was social justice-oriented and would be a great fit for me.”

What did you think of the MLIS program during the tour?
“I did get a really great reception from the MLIS program, and the faculty and staff continue to be open to every crazy idea I’ve come up! I’ve also consistently taken on projects and they’ve been really supportive every time.”

Tell us about your first year in the MLIS program.
“In my first semester here, I made it very clear to my MLIS advisors that I was interested in social justice. I was working with prisoners and people in corrections, at that time, and they encouraged me to foster that relationship.

In spring 2009, I organized a book drive to build a library in Nazareth, Lesotho. Everyone in the MLIS program was really supportive and chipped in. The book drive became a big community event — both on campus and in the surrounding community, because I sought help from outside sources.

That summer, I left for South Africa and worked as a librarian for six months at Kruger National Park and in nearby villages. At the end of that trip, I got to go to Lesotho and see the library we held the book drive for.

You spent the summer of 2010 in Washington D.C?
“Yes, it was an amazing experience. I had a fellowship at the Library of Congress in summer 2010, which focused on distributed digital preservation and working across the U.S. and other countries to develop best practices in digital preservation.

How do you fund your trips?
"To date, my work abroad has been volunteer based. As a result, I have been responsible for paying my own way. I haven't done it entirely alone, though; I have received assistance from the MLIS SGO (Student Governance Organization) in the form of Professional Development Grants. Just like the staff at St. Kate's, the SGO is also supportive of every crazy idea I have proposed, and I'm really thankful for that."

What’s in store for you in 2011?
“During the spring semester, I’ll be in Atsugi, Japan, where I will be working with a public library to implement a new LIS system and completing an LIS Capstone course.  Also, if I can pull the finances together in time, I plan on taking part in St. Kate’s Summer 2011 International Librarianship course in Puerto Rico — which would offer me more formalized education in the field I feel so invested in.”

Advice to new MLIS students?
“Take risks — because once you do, that act begets more opportunities.”