Five students starting their master’s degree studies at the San José State University School of Information in spring 2018 have demonstrated their potential as information professionals through the creation of infographics and digital posters that highlight their desired career path in the information profession.
The iSchool Scholarship Committee awarded Robyn Brown, Marianne Dilworth, Sharaya Olmeda, Deirdre Brill and Rebecca Armenta the $1,000 Director’s Scholarship for Excellence to support them as they work toward earning a Master of Library and Information Science degree.
With the theme “Why I Want to Be an Information Professional” in mind, the students used their creativity, design skills and research methods to discuss their career goals. Entries were judged “based on creative presentation … in the form of descriptive text, data points, photo/images/graphics” and the overall ability to tell their stories, the application states. In previous years, applicants were instructed to create Pinterest boards.
For her application, Brown thought about her goals for the MLIS program after deciding she wanted to work within the public library system in her hometown of Berkeley, California. Her infographic, “Community-Building in the Library,” explores the many ways public libraries connect with local residents such as providing literacy programs, social services and safe spaces.
“I worked for 3.5 years in the registrar’s office at a law school, so the storage and distribution of accurate information is an important mission for me. I am excited to strengthen my knowledge of information science and learn more about the public and school libraries serving the community,” she said.
Despite feeling a bit overwhelmed by returning to school, Brown said she feels honored and grateful for the scholarship and to the committee and Dr. Sandra Hirsh.
“The scholarship will allow me to focus on my first semester as I ease back into school – I haven’t been a student in almost eight years! I hope to graduate in 2.5 years, and am looking forward to all of the classes I get to take along the way,” she said.
Dilworth based her infographic, “Making Connections: Teacher Librarians Provide Access to the World,” on the premise that all teacher librarians have a mission to help school community members forge relationships with each other and around the globe.
“Teacher librarians really do have a superpower; they have the power to link students and teachers to the world around them by facilitating learning, inspiration, creativity and collaboration,” she said.
Four themes (learn, create, inspire and collaborate) are explored in her digital poster, which encouraged Dilworth to think about her ideal school library program. She also considered her personal connections and how libraries have shaped her as an educator, student and reader.
“I was thrilled to learn that I was one of the recipients of the Director’s Scholarship of Excellence. The award made the time and energy I spent creating my infographic all worth it,” she said.
Dilworth lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she notes the cost of living is “high.” She also works full time as a teacher librarian at Franklin Elementary in Alameda. Although she’s able to work as a school librarian with an emergency credential, she needs to earn a teacher librarian credential to remain in her position.
“The scholarship will definitely help with tuition and other expenses I incur while earning my [teacher librarian] credential and MLIS,” she said. “Working in my school library allows me to combine my background in educational technology with my love of books and working with children.”
Olmeda said she spent several days working on her infographic, “Public Libraries: Nourish the Present, Grow the Future,” which is the first she’s ever made. Winning the scholarship has given her a sense of pride and purpose.
“I have chosen to take this award as an affirmation that I have made the right choice to return to school for my master’s, and that SJSU will be there to support me in my goal to become a public librarian. This award is an investment in me and what I want to do,” she said.
Her love of literature and passion for volunteerism has motivated Olmeda to study library and information science. She has experience volunteering at soup kitchens, shelters and food banks. She’s also spent the past year and a half mentoring in a local nonprofit, Literacy for Life, which works with adults to help improve English language skills.
“In working with my students, I realized that I want to work with people and books full time. I think the ideas I have could bring both service and knowledge together within the already rich resource of the public library,” she said.
“My idea for a database of college textbooks came from my personal experience: I would regularly rent books from the public library to save money. I think college students everywhere could benefit from a database that reflected books available for free – because any way to save money is a boon, especially while in school.”
The scholarship will help Olmeda focus more on her studies and less on the loans she has taken out to pay for school. She noted the scholarship has already paid for her first two textbooks and additional storage for her computer so that she’s properly equipped to begin the fully online MLIS program.
“I was relieved to be chosen because this award reduces the loan that I have to take out, and any time that amount goes down I breathe a little easier,” she explained.
Brill’s application provided a personal timeline from kindergarten to 2017 detailing what led to her deciding to apply for the iSchool’s MLIS degree program. Summing it up with the title “The Inevitable Librarian,” she shared that her book club saw this “career coming a mile away.”
Armenta plans to pursue a career as an academic librarian. “My career aim is to enable successful collaborations with researchers and to apply creative approaches to mentor students, solve academic problems and provide academic institutions with a strong information management infrastructure,” she wrote in her scholarship-earning infographic.
The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence will be awarded again in fall 2018 to five incoming MLIS or Master of Archives and Records Administration students. To be eligible, newly admitted students in regular or special session must have an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.2. Applications for the fall semester will be accepted until May 1. More information about the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence and other iSchool scholarships is available on the Scholarship, Award, and Grant Information web page.
To date, 30 students have been awarded the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence, which is made possible by donations from faculty, alumni, and friends of the iSchool. To continue awarding the scholarship to future incoming students, donations may be made online via the school’s scholarship donation page.