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From Bogota to Bulgaria: Inside SOIS Interview with Trina Roth

From Bogotá to Bulgaria, recent graduate Trina Roth has traveled the globe teaching children at international schools while completing her Master’s of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree as a distance education student with the School of Information Studies (SOIS). Already having earned a master’s degree in education, Trina taught high school literature for ten years before growing restless for a new adventure. Together with her husband Joe, Trina packed up her penchant for literature and her love of libraries and headed south to Columbia, then to Bulgaria, and finally to Damascus, Syria where she currently resides.

During her brief visit to Milwaukee to attend the December Commencement Ceremony, where Chancellor Santiago mentioned Trina’s accomplishments during his address, Trina stopped by SOIS in Bolton Hall’s fifth floor to chat with professors whom she knew by name but had never met face-to-face. In between sharing stories about her travels and thanking her professors for their help and support, Trina sat down with INSIDE SOIS to talk about online learning, library studies, and life halfway around the world.

INSIDE SOIS: So what are you doing now in Damascus?

Trina: I am currently a librarian at a pre-K through 12 school library. There are about 400 students at the school in all. Many of the students are from families from around the world who are members of the UN or other international organizations. I got the job before I graduated actually.

INSIDE SOIS: You began your MLIS degree in Bulgaria and just completed it in Damascus. Tell me about life as an international student.

Trina: My husband and I have traveled extensively. We’ve lived in Columbia for two years, in Sofia, Bulgaria for about three years, and we’ve been in Damascus, Syria for about 1.5 years. My husband is currently pursuing his PhD in library studies in Damascus.

At the school that I work for, we have issues with electricity, with Internet, and with Web sites being blocked, in Damascus. Luckily, I had some very understanding professors here at SOIS who worked with me through my challenges of getting online for courses, of difficulties I encountered trying to get textbooks shipped to me, and of many other issues that made being an international DE student challenging. Overall, I had a wonderful experience with SOIS! I really needed a program to fit my schedule. SOIS’s DE program, its professors and its flexibility, fit my needs perfectly.

INSIDE SOIS: Why did you decide to pursue library studies?

Trina:I was a high school literature teacher for about ten years. Grading papers got a little overwhelming. I still loved literature and literary works, but didn’t want to teach anymore through the classroom setting. I started to look into libraries and different professions in that area, and fell in love with library studies.

INSIDE SOIS: What was it about the SOIS’s MLIS program that was right for you?

Trina: The fact that I didn’t have to be on campus made it the right program for me. I could do the whole program online, which was ideal.

INSIDE SOIS: What made you decide to travel so extensively over the past few years?

Trina: My husband and I are both in education. We started teaching in Oregon. I ended up talking to someone about international schools and the need for US teachers abroad at these institutions. This conversation introduced me to a whole other realm of teaching. My husband and I moved shortly thereafter, and we’ve been living and teaching in different parts of the world ever since.

INSIDE SOIS: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Trina: Probably where I am right now, a librarian at a K-12 school I love what I’m doing. I feel like I’m where I want to be.


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