As an information science major at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), Caleece Nash has devoted significant time to researching digital nomads, people who use modern technology to work remotely and who are often characterized as global travelers enjoying adventurous lifestyles.
Nash’s research led her on a global adventure of her own this spring when she traveled to the 2018 iConference in Sheffield, U.K., in March to present a paper titled “Digital Nomads Beyond the Buzzword: Defining Digital Nomadic Work and Use of Digital Technologies.” Nash was the lead author on the paper, which she co-authored with SILS Assistant Professor Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi, Will Sutherland-Keller (MSIS ’17), and Gabriela Phillips (BSIS ’18).
The 2019 iConference is hoping to encourage more students like Nash to participate with the introduction of the Undergraduate Symposium, a preconference event focused on networking and professional development. Students wishing to participate in the symposium must apply in advance at https://ischools.org/the-iconference/program/undergraduate-symposium/, and the deadline is Oct. 1.
Nash said the conference provided invaluable networking opportunities and new perspectives.
“It was absolutely amazing,” she said. “I was able to connect with undergraduates, master's students, and PhD students from all around the globe. Being there and hearing about how information science fits into all of these realms, from AI to data mining to law cases, was just a great opportunity. It kind of made the information science program and major feel like a little bit more of a global community in a sense, which I really loved.”
Dr. Jarrahi praised the impressive collaboration that produced the “Digital Nomads Beyond the Buzzword” paper. Sutherland-Keller provided a more comprehensive perspective into the topic and Phillips contributed to the writing and research. Another paper Phillips helped author before she graduated has been accepted by JASIST. Dr. Jarrahi said Nash’s determination to get the paper ready in time and her presentation skills led to her success at the iConference.
“We decided to put together this paper on short notice, so she worked really hard for this deadline. That conference, I think, had the lowest acceptance rate among all the iConferences in the past, but the paper got accepted and she presented it really well,” he said. “One thing about Caleece that sets her apart from other students is that she is very confident, so she presented in a very confident manner and that impressed a lot of people because she was just an undergraduate student.”
Nash, who is minoring in history, first discovered the Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) program through a high school classmate.
“I wanted a major that had that business aspect, but also had some technology in it, but I didn’t want to have two completely separate majors,” she said. “He told me about SILS and I was so amazed by the program and how perfectly tailored that was to exactly what I wanted in my college choice.”
In addition to working with Dr. Jarrahi on the digital nomads research project and attending the iConference, Nash has also enjoyed a summer internship in project management and cybersecurity at AvidXchange in Charlotte, NC, where she was able to utilize many skills she has learned in the SILS program.
Now a senior, Nash is working on her honors thesis on digital nomads and their relationship with space and what it means to be location independent. She and Dr. Jarrahi are also on an early stage of a second publication. After graduation, Nash plans to go to graduate school for management in cybersecurity.
Nash advises incoming BSIS students to make connections and talk to professors about their research and related opportunities. She also encourages students to expand the scope of their search beyond faculty they know through the classroom, and instead explore all of the SILS faculty research interests online.
“I haven’t met a single faculty member that hasn’t been so friendly, so I’m sure any of them would sit down and happily talk about their work,” she said.