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2016 iSchool (SLAIS) MAS Co-op Student of the Year

Each year, the Arts Co-op Program recognizes an iSchool (SLAIS) Master of Archival Studies (MAS) co-op student for outstanding achievement in all aspects of student performance including academics, the workplace, contribution to co-operative education, and extra-curricular activities. This year’s winner, Lara Maestro, was honoured for her work term as the Archives Project Assistant for UBC Okanagan Campus Library, Special Collections and Archives – a role for which she was commended by her supervisor as having “embodied the definition of an accomplished and exemplary employee.”

Lara received the Student of the Year distinction for her combination of excellent academic achievements, for which she was awarded a SSHRC grant; commitment to personal, academic, and career development; willingness to share her co-op work experience with others and be an advocate for co-op; and outstanding performance evaluation by her supervisor.

Excellence in the Workplace

Lara relocated to Kelowna, BC to work at the UBC Okanagan Campus Library, Special Collections and Archives, where one of her main responsibilities was “finalizing workflows for ingesting digitized collections into a shared online repository, Archivematica” in collaboration with UBC Vancouver’s Digital Initiatives Unit. A major outcome of the project was to allow UBC to make two important archival donations to UBC Okanagan available online. In this position, Lara had to quickly understand and learn Archivematica in order to accurately process the collections in the system. Lara was able to take pride in creating successful packages, despite unexpected setbacks that required her to be adaptable and problem solve in order to see a physical collection go digital for the first time. According to her supervisor, Arielle Lomness, “this task highlighted her outstanding performance, flexibility, and availability to collaborate with others on making changes to policies and procedures.”

Lara’s academic studies at the iSchool@UBC were highly applicable to her position at the UBC Okanagan Campus Library. In her classes, she learned about prototypical archives and how its arrangement, description, selection, and acquisition is clear and objectively justifiable. During her co-op experience, Lara learned that decisions are highly subjective and that decision-making is based on a combination of theory and practice. Her co-op experience highlighted the importance of the lessons Lara was being taught at school.

Being a part of the Arts Co-op Program has provided Lara with multiple unique opportunities that she normally would not have experienced. For example, working in a large academic institution has exposed Lara to tools such as digitization resources, web platforms, and archival software. This invaluable experience provided her with additional technical knowledge that will be a distinct advantage when she enters the job market.

Lara’s experience in co-op has significantly impacted her views of the workforce and how to approach the job search process after graduation. As she transitions into the information profession, she knows she will be using her skills in resume writing, job application, and interviewing gained through participating in the co-op program. Reflecting on her experience, Lara notes that her co-op term was “one of the most enjoyable and informative learning experiences” she has had so far during her degree.

To learn more about this award winning work term, watch Lara’s video about her co-op experience with UBC Okanagan Campus Library.


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