Student Profile –Corey Black (MA Library & Information Studies x’24)
Madison, Malawi, Beijing, Washington, DC. Corey Black’s journey to the iSchool has been a bit of an adventure.
Like many Wisconsin kids, Black decided to attend her hometown school, UW–Madison. UW was a clear choice since she was chosen to be a Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence scholar while still in middle school, and the program offered not only full tuition but a supportive community and mentorship.
Black needed a student job and stumbled upon a paid internship through the Information Specialist Internship Program. The two-year position was designed to expose students to the field of library and information sciences and offered Black library placements in areas like special collections and reference. “I kind of stumbled upon it,” she said. “I was looking for a paid student job, and this one ended up changing my life.”
After graduating with degrees in Afro-American studies and English literature, it was time to leave the familiarity of Madison, and the next stop of Black’s journey took her all the way to Beijing, where she worked as an English teacher. “I needed to explore and spread my wings. I loved China and teaching,” said Black.
After returning to Madison, Black applied to the Peace Corps. She expected to be placed in Myanmar teaching but was excited to learn she would be doing something completely new: health care in Malawi. She left for Africa in 2016 and jumped right into the new challenge, learning a lot about health care, community building, and facilitation.
“There was a school with no library and an underutilized space that was frequently locked,” she said. “I had the idea to build a children’s library. The community had a strong desire to build something useful for the children, so there was good support. I worked with an NGO to find resources, and the library has now been opened.”
After the Peace Corps, Black wasn’t sure what was next. She took a job as a management analyst with the Health Resources Services Administration, but “it wasn’t clicking.” Luckily Black had mentors at UW who continued to check in on her. “I felt very supported. Kelli Hughes (head of user services at UW–Madison Libraries) checked in on me. And others from UW contacted me wanting updates and offering support.” After some soul searching, Black realized it was time to go back to school and decided to pursue education in libraries and information. What began as a student internship grew into an interest and passion that now drives her career interests.