Cassidy Petersen knew right away what her preference was for student employment on campus.
“I was immediately drawn to working with University Libraries,” says Petersen, a third-year Strategic Communications major with minors in City & Regional Planning and Creative Writing. “I grew up with a passion for books and I would visit my local libraries constantly, so the atmosphere of a library has always been a comforting one for me. The historical preservation involved in maintaining a library's collection, as well as dedication to access of knowledge are also things I value quite a bit.”
Although Petersen knew with certainty that she wanted to work with University Libraries as a student employee and was soon hired onto the Hilandar Research Library team, she was unsure of the career field she wished to pursue after college.
“When I started my position in Special Collections, I was still battling my uncertainties in the various different career fields I was debating,” says Petersen. “What I found was an unexpected clarity that my work with the Hilandar collection brought to me as it reminded me of the values that inspire me and drive me, and inevitably ended in my pursuit of a career in urban planning.”
“Maintaining the Hilandar collection has come down to two major key points- conservation and access,” says Petersen. “There is a great care and shared mission among those who work with the collection, as well as the Special Collections department as a whole. They seek to conserve and respect history, as well as provide access to those who seek it. That ‘they’ quickly became a ‘we’ as I joined these efforts. These principles resonated with me in that they reflected the values that brought me to my current career aspirations. Urban Planning concerns itself with the protection and conservation of societies, cultures and their histories and works to foster a greater sense of equity and accessibility within them.”
Petersen’s many contributions to the mission of Hilandar Research Library and a personal essay detailing her newfound career goals led to her selection as one of five recipients of the inaugural University Libraries Student Employee Scholarship, which recognizes student employees who demonstrate exceptional creativity, originality and enthusiasm in their work.
“I'm very grateful to have been awarded this scholarship,” says Petersen. “It helps a lot financially as I have to take out loans every academic year to cover tuition to attend this university that I care so much about. Knowing that a piece of that is now something I don't have to worry about anymore is a great relief, and I am extremely thankful.”
“I've learned a great deal about how much hard work and effort it takes to maintain and grow a collection,” says Petersen. “I see so many people work tirelessly to protect and preserve this thing that they're all so passionate about — it has been a very inspiring thing to witness.”