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2021 Academic Excellence Award: Cassidy Thompson

When Cassidy Thompson was in her former career as a teacher, she would never have imagined that she’d find her true passion in cataloging. But that’s exactly what Thompson, one of this year’s 2021 Academic Achievement Award winners, hopes to be doing after she graduates from SIS this spring. She was offered a cataloging job at a small library in coastal Maine, which she felt was the perfect job, but it was not exactly the perfect situation for her family at this time – she already has more interviews lined up and is excited to see where her new degree will take her.

“Being able to land that perfect job in Maine gives me confidence that I will find another perfect job somewhere that will work for me and my family,” she said. “I never at any point doubted that I wasn’t on the right career path with this program, and having interviewed for a few different positions and different libraries and getting to talk to library people, I feel that I fit in with them. The interviews have felt really comfortable and natural too, and that’s really affirming.”

Thompson already has a master’s in fine arts in creative writing under her belt and was teaching high school English and Spanish when she decided to take the plunge and move to Knoxville to earn her MSIS degree as a full-time on-campus student. She was awarded a Fellowship that helped her make that choice, and she’s not looked back once.

During her time at SIS, Thompson has worked with Assistant Professor Brian Dobreski and written an ASIS&T conference paper with him – and she’s thrilled to see that paper pop up in scholarly databases.

Working with Dobreski is part of what steered her toward cataloging, a unique part of librarianship that lets her flex both her research skills and her creativity.

“So much of my creative writing is nonfiction, so it was about research and a lot of cataloging is research, too,  because sometimes there are things about the item that aren’t there and you have to go find them,” she said. “I think I have one of those brains that is half creative and half analytical. I think the creative part is harder for me. I have to dig in deep and it’s a challenge. But with information sciences and cataloging, it’s easier to get into a flow and just go.”

Thompson was offered the Maine job on the same day she received the news that she won this award, and it all culminated to validate the big choices she made to enter a new career path.

“It’s really an honor, between coming in with the fellowship, and ending with this, I don’t know – it just feels surreal, but also fitting. It makes me proud because “SIS saw me as deserving of the fellowship as an incoming student with a professional career already behind me, and then I was able to show strong academic achievement throughout the program. It just further affirms that I’m in the right field,” she said.