Staff Connections – Meet Shaina Ford


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Shaina, born and raised in Walterboro, SC, is the Learning Resource Center coordinator at the Tulsa Welding School, Jacksonville campus. Shaina moved to Jacksonville three years ago. She joined the TWS family in July 2018.

Thanks for your time, Shaina. Tell us a little about your career.

My background is in history. I started out as a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school. Three years ago, after filling in for our media specialist at the school, I realized that I should become a librarian. So I moved to Jacksonville to take the position of youth services librarian at the Jacksonville Public Library. Then I accepted this position as the learning resources coordinator.

What made you make that change? 

As a teacher I felt I was limiting myself to certain age groups. I’m very knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to researching information. When I substituted for our media specialist that day, I really didn’t know anything about what librarians or media specialists do, that day was eye opening.

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Librarians and media specialists get to deal with everybody, not just certain age groups. She dealt with all grades, kids of different ages, providing them with different information. I found that pretty interesting. Being a history major, I was always surrounded by books or research, so I thought that if I’m familiar with the environment, why not become a librarian? As I learned more about librarians and what they do for people of all ages, I became more interested in what they do at the collegiate level, and that’s why I’m here.

So can you outline what you do for students at the Jacksonville campus?

I’m basically what you would refer to as a media specialist. Our students use the center to complete classroom assignments, résumés, job applications and watch welding videos. My office is right next door, so if they have any computer or browsing issues, need résumé help or need information on their class schedules, I’m here to help.

So more a media specialist than a traditional librarian?

I do have a few books here, but because our students are welders, my 1000-page books aren’t necessarily something they use as a resource! Because of that, we do subscribe to the American Welding Society, which issues monthly journals.

Yes, students come in and read about what’s happening in welding: new technology that’s coming out or what new techniques are being used. So there are some physical book resources, but because we give our students tablets here in Jacksonville, most of the stuff they do is on a tablet or their phones. They can use the YouTube app on those devices to look at welding videos, or they do their quizzes on them.

shaina ford

Are you a team of one? 

Actually, I’m part of a team of three. I’m part of the Student Services department. While I manage the media center myself, my co-workers have more one-on-one sessions with students. They talk to students about life issues, transportation problems and graduation stuff.

When does a student typically first meet you?

They often meet me the first day they come to school. My office is basically in their space, set up in front of their classrooms. They pass my door on the way out to the student parking lot. So if I’m not in the lab talking to instructors, changing schedules, then I’m in here and they can see me.

Who tells them about the resources you have available?

Everybody! Whether it’s the admissions people when they conduct tours with prospective students, they often bring back to introduce them to me. During orientation, the President lets them know about the resource center, but not everybody comes to orientation. Some people just come to school the first day, in which case my co-workers will let them know about the center and how we can help.

What access do students have to you and the center?

I try to be here for parts of all three shifts. Some days, I’m here 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Other days, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. So I am here for parts of all three shifts. But the center is open while the school is open, so students always have access to our computers.


What are the three most common questions you get asked by students?

The first question is, “Can you help me with my résumé?” The second question is usually about interviews, especially if they have anxiety about an interview coming up. The third question is, “Can you change my schedule?” If they have transportation or child care issues, we can try help them move from the night to the morning class for example.


So it sounds like you supplement the Career Services team with résumé and interview help.

That’s something I tackled myself when I came here, because to me, that’s a resource that librarians provide. I have two boards outside my office in the hallway that were empty. So I thought, well, I am their resource person, so why not help them with jobs, interviews and all that good stuff? So when they do come in to see me, if they are about to submit their résumé to career services, they’ll ask me if it looks good and how they should format it.


And I’ll help them. I do try to help them with jobs, too. I go online on a daily basis and see what I can find, and post job postings on my board.


Do you have any contact with graduates?

I do. But the only graduates I tend to interact with are those who come back to update their résumé or brush up on their welding skills in the lab. Maybe I’ll see a few a month.


How can students help you to help them?

If you have any type of question, ask me. If you don’t ask, how can I help? A closed mouth doesn’t get fed, so don’t be afraid to ask! One student asked me if I knew anything about credit monitoring, because he had his wallet stolen. It just so happened that from past experience I know the process to obtain a new social security card. So don’t be afraid to ask me anything.


What advice do you have for students who may be considering attending TWS?

Visit the campus and see if the program fits you. Do some research on the field to get that real job perspective for what the job might be like 10 to 15 years from now. Job shadow someone if you can, to see if this is something you really want to do for the long haul. “What’s your purpose?” would be the question I’d ask them to ask themselves. We all go through life trying to find something that fits us. Is your purpose to be a welder, is your purpose to do refrigeration or be an electrician? What fits you?

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