Faces of UMSI: Rachel McCoucha
Rachel McCoucha is here to help people find exactly what they're looking for.
Second year MSI student and information mentor Rachel McCoucha is here to help. She’s helped library patrons send emails, sweethearts find the perfect bouquet, and the stories of Holocaust survivors in Cincinnati live on. Now, she can help you decide if an MSI degree is the right choice for you.
Rachel grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio in an interfaith family. Her upbringing inspired her to major in religious studies and philosophy as an undergraduate at Webster University in Webster Groves, Missouri, where she first encountered library work.
Rachel’s mother, who has volunteered at a small temple synagogue library since Rachel was a child, encouraged her to apply for the access services student worker position at the Webster University Library.
“I used to spend a lot of time there watching her do things,” Rachel said about her mother’s volunteer work. “That sort of put libraries as a career in my head.”
At the Webster University Library, Rachel left her comfort zone in order to do IT work and answer the library phone. She also did a lot of shelving, scanning, checked in and out books, and ran the circulation desk.
Meanwhile, Rachel also worked as a florist at Kroger. “Of all the places you can work in Kroger I think it's the best because it’s probably the most positive,” Rachel said.
After graduating from Webster University, Rachel worked for Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati as they prepared to open a museum about their history. She worked with old ledgers, photographs and prints as a contracted researcher.
The combination of the experience of working with archival material and Rachel’s fond memories of working at the Webster University Library compelled her to pursue a master's of information science.
Rachel’s family helped her nail down a list of information science programs to apply to, and UMSI was at the top. She began working toward her MSI in 2018.
Rachel chose to become an information mentor — a student worker who meets and corresponds with potential UMSI students to help them figure out if UMSI is right for them — quickly after arriving in Ann Arbor and beginning the program.
Unsurprisingly, Rachel enjoys reading in her free time. When she’s not reading for class, she reads classic novels and books about religion.
Rachel worked for the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center, a small Holocaust museum in Cincinnati, as a collections intern over the summer of 2019. She secured internship funding through the university in order to fund her service.
“The whole summer was a fabulous learning experience and also getting to feel like the work I was doing was actually really important,” Rachel said.
At the center, Rachel was able to learn about and help preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors — stories that impacted her deeply.
“I learned about so many different stories there were, but also how important it is to take care of people and the power that people have to really impact each other's lives for the better,” Rachel said.
Ultimately, Rachel hopes to combine her interest in religion and her interest in library science in her career.
“I like to think I’m a helpful person,” Rachel said about what all of her career experience has in common and why she wants to keep on working in libraries and archives. “I like to help people find things.”