Eleanor MacEachern Mullens is pursuing her Master’s degree in Library Science, specializing in Special Libraries and Knowledge Management, with a particular focus on law librarianship. She has a B.A. in French from Old Dominion University and a Paralegal Certificate from Georgetown University. Eleanor served more than five years as a US Army Paralegal.
1. What is the biggest difference you’ve noticed in transitioning from military life to civilian life?
One of the most noticeable differences is how you meet people. In the military, it’s totally normal to pepper people with questions when you first meet them. You ask folks what they did and where they lived as a way to establish a connection. It’s not the same in civilian life. Many of the civilians that I’ve met, even at my school, seem disconcerted when I ask them questions upon introduction. As a result, I find that I get along best with people who have lived in or around military communities.
2. What is something you wish you had known before moving here?
The thing that I wish I’d known before leaving the military community is how little people understand about women in the military. My husband is retired military, so people assume that I was a dependent spouse. It seems to come as a surprise to these folks that I’m a veteran in my own right. I find it disheartening. However, I try to turn those moments into learning opportunities by letting people know that I served as well.
3. What is an important lesson that you learned in the military that has helped you in grad school?
When dealing with a large bureaucracy, don’t give up the first time you’re told “no”. That person might mean “no, we don’t do it that way,” which is not the same as “no, that’s not possible.” I take that “no” as a challenge to learn the rules and policies, to see if there’s an exception. There usually is. It’s just a matter of whether it applies to what I’m trying to get done.
4. What made you choose UNC/NC when deciding on a program/place to study?
I had done my research and knew that UNC’s School for Information and Library Science has a reputation as one of the best Library Science programs in the country. It doesn’t hurt that NC is very friendly to military retirees and that my family lives just a few hours away in Virginia. It’s the closest I’ve lived to my family in 15-20 years. Those three things made UNC an easy choice.