IVC News > February 26, 2021

IVC Human Development Program Gives Library Assistant Valuable Insights for Program Design

Theresa Olah .jpgTheresa Olah already had a career when she started taking courses at IVC in fall 2019. She signed up for classes because it had been years since she earned her bachelor’s degree, and she was a bit rusty when it came to school. She wanted to be ready when she started the master’s degree program at San Jose State University the following year.

It turns out, IVC did more than oil off the rust for Olah. It gave her knowledge she could use immediately in her work and put her on the path to another degree she hadn’t been planning on.

Olah is in her second career, as a library assistant for Orange County Public Libraries, where she has worked for eight years. Her professional journey began at AMC Theatres, where she worked for 16 years after earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

She left her job with the theater to run an online music hardware and software business with her husband. After their son was born, Olah took time off to be home with him. When he was about 7 years old, during one of their regular trips to the library, Olah spotted a sign at the checkout counter: The library needed helpers.

“I thought that would be kind of fun to work at the library,” she recalled.

She applied for and landed the position, which required her to fill in when people were out sick or on vacation. A couple of years later, Olah moved into a full-time position as a library assistant, and then began to consider the next step: becoming a librarian, which requires a master’s degree in library and information science.

In fall 2019, after doing her research, Olah decided to move ahead and applied to San Jose State’s Master of Library Science and Information program. That’s when she decided to register for classes at IVC, to get back into the habit of studying and also to learn more about topics of interest. She signed up for courses in human development and library.

“I work in Children’s Services, so we do a lot of story times and programs for children,” Olah said. “I’ve just been really interested in learning about early childhood development and education. It will help me in my job at the library.”

She enjoyed the initial classes and decided to take more human development courses at IVC during the spring and summer before her fall 2020 start at San Jose State.  

“My original intention was just to take classes at IVC and once I got into San Jose State, I was going to stop taking the classes at IVC,” Olah said.

But the information Olah was learning was helpful, so she signed up for more human development courses, even after she started her master’s courses at the university. She has completed half of the courses she needs to earn an associate degree in Human Development.

This semester, she is taking 10 hours between both colleges, while juggling work and homeschooling her now 16-year-old son. Donna King, chair of IVC’s Human Development Department, describes Olah as “an exemplary and contributing member of her classes.”

“I have experienced her as one that takes new ideas and integrates them into her life and her work,” King said. “Specifically, I have seen her take on a deep inquiry into the work of renowned children's author/illustrator Eric Carle and bring that to her work in the library. I am always excited to see Theresa take what she has learned and build upon it in her work.” 

Olah explained the knowledge she has gained from her human development classes at IVC have given her more intentionality in how she presents programs and story times to children. For example, she became more aware of the importance of using repetition in programming for young children.

Her experience at IVC has shown her the value a community college education provides. Olah recalled that when she attended high school, there was always a lot of push toward getting students into a four-year university.

“Community college was seen as for those kids who weren’t ready for four-year university, so I was very impressed when I started IVC,” Olah said. “The teachers are excellent. I really appreciate the smaller class sizes that you wouldn’t get at a university.”

A big plus was the fact that two professors whose classes she has taken earned their own master’s degrees in library science from San Jose State University, giving her valuable resources to tap into to learn more about the program before she started it.

To learn more about IVC’s courses in language and literacy, creative development in young children, developmental psychology, principles and practices in early education and others, visit IVC’s Human Development Department.

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