The First UROP Grant Recipients
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Donna Gererty Eager '89
Major: medical technology
Job title: School librarian, Heatly School; itinerant librarian, Capital Region BOCES; school librarian, Rotterdam Academy I, a K-5 BOCES school.
Hometown: Green Island, N.Y.

Donna Gererty Eager '89
Donna Gererty Eager '89

What have you been doing since graduation, and what are you doing now?

When I began my career out of college my dream was to become a Medical Technologist. I succeeded in finding a job immediately after college at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass. I worked evenings there so that I could determine which department I enjoyed best. Chemistry won! In the summer of 1991, I moved to upper state New York to be with my boyfriend, now husband. I found a job in chemistry at Samaritan Hospital, where I worked full time for five years. Once my first daughter was born I switched to part time and then per diem days and evenings when my second daughter was born. Working in a laboratory evenings, weekends and summers though was tough with having a husband, children and also family still in New Hampshire.

So, when my oldest daughter started kindergarten, I began working in her classroom as a weekly parent volunteer and also as the room mother. I loved it and continued to volunteer in her first-grade class. Once my second daughter started kindergarten, I was volunteering so much they suggested I go on the substitute list for teaching assistants, secretaries and library clerks. I did and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of working with all of the ages from kindergarten through fifth grade. I even substituted in the high school for the library clerk and found the student interaction in the library at that level very stimulating.

In August 2005, I received a call from the school librarian asking if I would be interested in applying for the library clerk position in a different school—same district—where she also worked. I hesitated at first, especially since I had planned to go back to chemistry full time at the hospital. But I decided to try it and then once I began I knew the library was where I wanted to work! Being an overachiever though, it wasn't long before I realized I wanted to be the one teaching and encouraging the children in the capacity of librarian not just the library clerk.

After investigating and consulting the Information Studies Department at SUNY, Albany, I began taking the classes at Hudson Valley Community College that I needed to fulfill the teaching requirements I was missing. Once I fulfilled my basic classes I applied for and was accepted into the master's program to become a School Media Library Specialist at SUNY, Albany. After three years of taking classes that worked with my work and family's schedule, not an easy task with two active daughters, I received my master's in information science with a specialty as a School Media Library Specialist in August 2010.

I was lucky enough to find a job with Capital Region BOCES as an itinerant school librarian starting Sept. 1, 2010. Through working for BOCE, this year I am the school librarian at both Heatly School in Green Island, N.Y., a K-12 school, and at Rotterdam Academy I, a K-5 school, in Rotterdam Junction, N.Y. I have fulfilled my second dream goal of becoming a School Media Library Specialist, and although I do miss the lab and still some of the people, I love teaching too.

Now that I have switched careers I have time to go to all the tennis and lacrosse games, music lessons, and concerts that my girls are involved in now that they are both even older. We still visit New Hampshire many times a year to see family and friends there. One of our favorite family activities is to go camping with five families during the summer. We also spend time fishing on the Hudson River, and working on restoring our 19th-century Greek Revival House.

Your UROP project was entitled "Anemia and UNH women." Can you tell us what you did, and what you got out of it?

My focus was on finding out the percentage of women that were anemic at college. I remember trying really hard to get volunteers to actually have their finger stuck to determine if they were anemic. Although I don't remember the specifics of my report or the statistics I do know that I felt strongly about making women aware of the possibility that the reason they were so tired may be because they were anemic.

Did your research have an impact on what you did later?

I enjoyed the research project and it definitely gave me more confidence in my ability to successfully work in the medical field. I was fascinated with learning about red blood cells and always loved later as a medical technologist understanding the possible medical implications of the test results of the various patients.

What do you remember about being on the cover of the Alumnus (assuming you remember it)?

All I remember about the cover was that I had my hair braided and had to sit in rows in a classroom instead of in a laboratory setting, which I thought was strange.

Anything else you'd like to add? Any advice for current students?

Even though I changed careers I still value and am thankful that I have a background in the medical field. I luckily understand the routines of the hospital and the necessity of testing and have helped ease the difficulties for others in my family. My love of science is still strong and is something I can now transfer and incorporate in my teaching. My advice for my daughters and my students is to find something you enjoy and are passionate about that you can pursue somehow as a career and to always keep an open mind towards learning. Never stop reading, learning and doing that is what keeps you forever young.

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