Mia Adams grew up visiting the classrooms and conference rooms of the School of Information Sciences (then known as the Graduate School of Library and Information Science). Her father, Paul Adams, taught at the school and was the director of the Prairienet community network. He often brought his daughter with him when he had classes or meetings, picking out books for her to read while he worked.
Paul Adams always encouraged Mia to get a degree there and he was delighted when she was accepted into the program.
“He was so excited to share everything. He was really over the top, making a list of instructors I needed to take classes with, giving me book recommendations and things I should research and read,” Adams said.
Her father passed away suddenly before she started classes. She is reminded of him daily when she’s at the school.
“I didn’t realize how many people knew him still. At least two professors every semester would say, ‘I knew your dad and got a chance to work with him.’ It’s really nice to have that constant reminder that he made a difference and they cared enough to tell me, but it’s also hard to be there and walk through the doors and have all the memories flood back,” Adams said.
She first applied to graduate school at the U. of I. in African studies. Adams took many volunteer trips with her father to Tanzania, where they installed wells and set up computer labs in schools and libraries. She accompanied him on similar trips to install computers in community labs in East St. Louis when she was younger. Those efforts sparked her interest in community engagement, and her trips to Africa led her to pursue African studies.
“I really fell in love with the language and I wanted to come back and study Swahili. I fell in love with the people and the culture,” Adams said. “I enjoy how interdisciplinary African studies is.”
She decided to add the information sciences degree partly because of the library-related work she did in Tanzania, but also because she always knew she would pursue it at some point.
“The ultimate choice was because my father persuaded me to take advantage of the best library and information science program in the country,” she said.
Since she’s been back here for school, Adams has been working with immigrants and refugees through a small local assistance organization. She plans to continue that work after earning a master’s degree in social work.