Grad Students on Staff

by Kelsey Fuller-Shafer, Access Services Supervisor

We’d like to introduce you to two student employees in the Access Services department: Michael Draper (Class of 2023, Bachelor of Science in Mathematics) and Noor Khattak (Class of 2023, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering). And we couldn’t be more pleased that they have decided to stay for a couple more years while they complete their next challenge: graduate school!

Michael and Noor are progressing through Masters’ degrees in Education, and Engineering (Electrical and Computer) at Fairfield respectively, and we are grateful that they will continue to serve as friendly, knowledgeable, and reliable student staff members here at the Library. They have kindly agreed to share with us some favorite memories and insights, as well as a glimpse of their promising career plans beyond Fairfield.

Why Fairfield? What made you decide to come here for your undergraduate degrees, and how did Fairfield University beat out the competition for your graduate degrees, too?

MD: I have to admit, Fairfield was not my first choice of school. It wasn't until both the university and math program information sessions over the summer leading into my senior year of high school that I ever even began to consider Fairfield as a home for my undergraduate studies. I was also given a chance to shadow a senior math major at the time a bit later into my senior year, where I sat in on two math classes, met with him and some of his friends for lunch, and talked about their own feelings toward the school. After all of these experiences leading into college, and looking back now, I would say that deciding on Fairfield U to pursue my undergraduate degree was one of, if not the best choice that I have ever made in life. I studied mathematics, with minors in both education and statistics, alongside amazing peers and professors, and eventually graduated thanks to their support every step of the way. And going on to making a decision for grad school, due to their kindness... along with their persuasion... it became my first and only choice. One that I have never regretted.

Revisiting my decision to come to Fairfield, I am amazed at how I was able to get a one-way [international!] ticket to a place I barely knew about and how it ended up becoming my (second) home! I wasn't too familiar with Fairfield University – or Connecticut for that matter – when I applied; I didn't even get to visit the campus beforehand. Out of the 20 colleges I applied to, Fairfield was the most generous with their scholarship and financial aid, so I went with my gut and where I had more financial flexibility, and enrolled. It was undoubtedly the best decision I have ever made as four years later, I knew I just had to extend my time here. Though not my first choice at the time, the graduate program at Fairfield is what I pursued because the faculty and staff here went above and beyond to help me through an incredibly jarring time in my life. Fairfield is where I was meant to be!

What’s your favorite aspect of working in the Library?

MD: I love the community that I found among the other library staff, both with my fellow students and with the full and part time staff that work there. It has been one of my favorite places on campus since starting work in my first year as an undergrad, and everyone has been extremely welcoming and kind. I think that the friendships that I have made here at the library are some that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

NK: Oh, where to begin? This was the best college job one can possibly hope for! My favorite aspect of working here is easily the staff! I met some of the best people I have ever known through it. They are my found family! I call this Library my home away from home. My supervisors joke about how I should just have a sleeping bag at my disposal considering how often I find myself here.

What do you wish more of your classmates knew about the Library? Any unsung or under-appreciated heroes among the resources, services, or collections we offer?

MD: Not enough of my classmates ever tried checking out math textbooks or any DVDs from the library! As a math major I always needed my own textbooks for math, but I can guarantee we have a few popular textbooks for classes in our STR (student reserve) collection that could save so many students money! And same thing with our media collection, the library has so many DVDs to choose from and watch, especially over an extended weekend break or holiday. They really help to pass the time (and save money on rentals if they aren't on streaming sites). It's also great that the library loans DVD players as well to make watching said movies easy.

NK: I strongly recommend participating in the various events and activities that our library offers. These gatherings provide remarkable opportunities to engage with others on intriguing topics, fostering connections and enriching your college experience in unique and meaningful ways. A big shout-out to my amazing friends, and a special shout-out to the three most influential Fairfield women in my life – Sylvia, Patty, and Kelsey. In the unpredictable rhythm of my journey here, their unwavering presence became the emotional anchor that grounded me. They made Fairfield home.

While we really don’t want to think about you leaving the Library student staff, what are your long-term career plans, and how do you think Fairfield has prepared you?

MD: At the end of my 5th year at Fairfield I will be certified as a teacher. Education is something that I have been passionate about for as long as I can remember, but also something that I did not realize I was passionate about until coming to Fairfield as an undergrad and taking education classes for the minor. My current internship, where I will do my student teaching, confirms my decision to become a high school teacher. I do have plans to teach abroad shortly after leaving school, something that I am getting support for from my professors and other faculty and staff at Fairfield, and am really hopeful for what the future holds for me there. As for the internship I feel that my professors and experiences at Fairfield have prepared me in all the best ways possible. I can't wait to start student teaching in the Spring semester, regardless of the nerves that come with giving presentations every day to full classes of students.

NK: : I completed my Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering this past May, and am currently in the graduate program for Electrical and Computer Engineering. After I complete my Master's, I want to work in the industry for some time. With my choice of electives in my senior year of undergrad, I developed a passion for applying an engineering approach to healthcare. Fairfield, through freedom in electives, allowed me to explore the Electrical/Biomedical overlap, and I knew I had to work in a field where my skills as an Electrical Engineer could be used to assist in medical advancements. Once I have gained some experience working as an engineer and have explored enough to know my distinct passion, I want to pursue a PhD in my chosen area of research. I aspire to become an impactful researcher, contributing to advancements in the field of science. However, circling back to now, the thought of leaving the library staff makes my heart ache.