Sean Noel '20 on Receiving His Simmons Scholarship

April 10, 2016

Sean Noel

Sean is speaking at the Scholarship Appreciation Brunch on Sunday, April 10th!

What program are you in at Simmons?

I am a PhD student in Library and Information Science. My domain is archives and special collections. My research interests center on the use of primary sources in the undergraduate humanities curriculum.

What's your favorite part of your program?

As I'm still completing my coursework, my classes are my favorite part. The cares of the day drop away as I make that one-mile drive from my office at Boston University to the Simmons campus to attend my classes.

What made you make the move to come to Simmons?

I had 16 years of experience working at the archives at Boston University when I considered pursuing a terminal degree. Simmons is arguably the best archives program in the country — and it's just my good luck that it's in my backyard!

How is Simmons helping to prepare you for your career?

My work at Simmons is helping me understand the underlying themes and theories of the work I've been doing for almost 19 years. It's helping to prepare me for the next stage of my career. The PhD and the knowledge I'm gaining while pursuing that degree are vital for my continued professional development.

What type of work do you do outside of your program at Simmons?

I am the Associate Director at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University, a busy contemporary archive that specializes in collecting the papers of noted public figures in the fields of journalism, poetry, literature and criticism, dance, music, theater, film, television, political and religious movements, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bette Davis, Elie Wiesel, Dan Rather and many more.

Do you have any tips for work/life integration?

As a parent, a student and a full-time employee in a busy archive, my best tip is to hold on tight because the world spins very fast! I have no secrets for work/life balance — other than to maintain my sense of gratitude. Being busy is a privilege and by maintaining a sense of gratitude to those who make it possible, I try to honor my good fortune.

What's the best career advice you've gotten along the way?

The best advice I've been given about pursuing an advanced degree was from my boss, the Director of the Gotlieb Center, who told me I would have to be passionate about what I was studying to be successful. I kept her advice in mind during the application process at Simmons and it has been with me all along. I chose a subject I'm passionate about and study it with a group of faculty and students who are likewise passionate!

How did your life change when you received your Simmons scholarship?

My Simmons scholarship is an unexpected affirmation of the work I have done so far — and strong motivation to sustain me for the hard work yet to come! I am deeply appreciative for this honor from the Doctoral Committee.

What's the topic of your speech at the Scholarship Appreciation Brunch?

Gratitude. I hope to express my gratitude to the faculty, staff and administration of Simmons for the opportunity to pursue this course of study; not to mention Mrs. Marie Galvin, wife of Thomas Galvin, who had the prescience to establish the endowment in his name that provides the scholarship. I have not met her, but she is already one of my favorite people!

What are you most looking forward to at the Scholarship Appreciation Brunch?

The opportunity for my wife and daughter to hear me thank them for their patience. Trying to complete a PhD requires shared sacrifice. No one does it alone.

What's your Simmons moment?

I was fortunate to take a class called Teaching and Learning, team-taught by two wonderful faculty members, Sarah Evelyn and Tamara Cadet. Simmons requires all PhD students in LIS and Social Work to take a class that prepares them to teach a college level course and this was my first class that was a mix of LIS and Social Work students. The Social Work students were all practitioners, some working with cancer survivors, some working with survivors of abuse, for example. They brought a perspective to the course that was completely different from my previous experiences. What I learned from the syllabus was interesting and important, but what I learned from my classmates was profound and inspirational.