The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Congratulations to – me!

Colleen Murray. Used with permission.

Colleen Murray. Used with permission.

By Colleen Murray, Student

Last week marked a major milestone in my genealogical education. I finished my 40 courses required to earn the PLCGS (Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies) from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies! Though immersed in celebration this week, I have returned to my computer to write this account of my experiences and reflect on how I got here.

I was always a business-minded individual. I initially thought I’d be an accountant, and completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree. But finding myself at a soul-sucking job after graduation, I quit to follow my dream of opening a retail tea shop in Edmonton, Canada. Six years later, I sold it when our family moved to Ontario. Small children took up most of my day, and I happened on genealogy as a hobby that I could do in spare moments to maintain my sanity.

In 2010, having moved back to Edmonton, I started researching genealogy educational programs. I wondered if perhaps my hobby could be translated into a career?  I settled on the National Institute for Genealogical Studies because of its Canadian stream of courses. It was very important to me that my education be relevant to my location. It also allowed me to take Irish courses, which is where my cultural heritage lies. And best of all, I could work at my own pace.

I started out the program very slowly, trying out Methodology parts 1 & 2 before moving on to the beginner level Canadian package. I look back with some amusement on that first year, I did not usually tackle more than one course at a time, and did not usually submit more than one module per week.  Part of this was due to being a bit of a perfectionist, and part due to family commitments. My slow start may explain why it took me five more years to complete my 40 courses!

By 2011, I was fully committed to becoming a professional genealogist, and I decided to pursue the PLCGS.  The 40 course requirement would allow me to finish up to the advanced level of Canadian courses, and up to the intermediate level of Irish courses, while of course still taking the methodology, analysis and other required courses.  I still completed my classes slowly, but really picked up the pace when my family spent a year travelling on sabbatical in Ireland and Australia.  With few other obligations, it’s amazing what you can get done!  I also spent a lot of time upgrading my previous research, using practices I had learned in class- fixing source citations, producing reports, and implementing a better system to organize my online documents.

The advanced courses that I took in later years were the toughest, but in retrospect, the most valuable. The Canadian: Geography & Maps challenged me, but the result was a different way of tackling research.  The Palaeography: Reading & Understanding Historical Documents class took a LOT of  time, but by the end my skills had really improved dramatically. I still refer back to those notes regularly.

Having finally completed all of my PLCGS courses, I know that my education is not finished.  In fact, I know that professional genealogists have an obligation to keep current and continually upgrade their knowledge of record sets, methodologies, business and technology, and also study journals that include the work of others.  I do plan to do all this, and am on the waiting list for ProGen, as suggested by my instructor Brenda Wheeler (who put up with me through all three of my Analyses classes!)  The National Institute’s Professional Development courses will also no doubt be useful to me.  Right now, I am going to spend some time working on my business plan and use some of those Bachelor of Commerce skills to map out where I want to go from here.

I want to say thank you to all my instructors, especially to Brenda Wheeler & Ruth Blair, who have been great mentors to me.  I want to say to all the prospective and current students out there to keep at it!  Even if it takes you longer than you’d hope, when you finish, it feels so sweet.

You can contact Colleen and keep up with her genealogical adventures at www.cmgenealogy.com

 

  • Shirley Sturdevant says:

    Congratulations, Colleen!!! Like you, I have just completed my 40 courses (Canadian and American focus) and will graduate this May at the ceremony to be held, I believe, in Barrie during The Ontario Genealogical Society’s (OGS) Conference “Tracks through Time”. I first began my studies in the fall of 2008 when I discovered The Institute at a one-day seminar held by the Toronto Branch of OGS. I was at a point when I felt I had found out as much about my ancestors as I could and decided to ‘dive in’. A lifelong learner, I felt that even if I was unable to use my new knowledge and skills for myself, I would be able to educate and assist others. During that time, I took on a role with the OGS Board and eventually moved through the positions of Vice-President and President; hence, like you, although my children were grown, I experienced a slowdown in my course completion too. Both my studies and my participation in a genealogical organization have benefited my overall growth and understanding. I now plan to put my Education Plan and Business Plan to the test as I move into the next stage of my own genealogical development and action. And…yes, more Institute courses are part of the plan. Can’t get enough of a good thing!

    Thanks to all at The Institute for Genealogical Studies. I too encourage others to begin or expand your course selections. The trip is well worth it!!

    January 22, 2015 at 8:41 am
  • Colleen Murray says:

    Hi Shirley, Thanks for the reply! Nice to “meet” a fellow new grad. I am hoping to make it to the graduation ceremony as well, although it is a bit of a trek from Edmonton, so we will have to see. Best of luck in your new ventures!
    -Colleen

    January 23, 2015 at 11:12 am

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