Amy Sonnie Honored for Her Work to Encourage Diversity

SLIS student Amy Sonnie has completed two semesters of coursework thus far, and has already received four awards for her scholarship and community service. This spring, she received the Committee to Enhance Equity and Diversity Distinguished Service Award from San Jose State University's College of Applied Sciences and Arts.

The award is given to students who "have demonstrated excellence in promoting and fostering a deeper understanding of equity and diversity." Sonnie was the first SLIS student to ever receive this award. Professor Anthony Bernier nominated her for the award based on her extensive work in the community. Although she has not actually taken a class with Dr. Bernier, Sonnie met him several years ago and considers him a mentor.

She was a co-founder of the Center for Media Justice, a media training and policy advocacy group working to promote diversity, equity and justice in media and technology. She has also served as an educational speaker and crisis counselor for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community who have been victims of hate violence and domestic abuse. In addition, Sonnie has helped train young people regarding issues of diversity and disability rights, anti-racism, youth empowerment, and international social justice issues.

In July, Dr. Ken Haycock announced that Sonnie was also one of four recipients of a San Jose Graduate Equity Fellowship for the upcoming academic year. Sonnie currently has a 4.0 average and demonstrated financial need. She was thrilled to receive this fellowship, which includes a significant financial award. "As a student with a disability, I have really struggled to meet the costs of attendance along with medical costs," she points out. "There are very few scholarships out there for students with disabilities and only one in the LIS profession."

In the fall, Sonnie will be participating in an internship at the Oakland Public Library, running a research project that she designed herself. She created the multi-step project as part of the required Research Methods course (LIBR 285). The project, which focuses on addressing how to best serve the information needs of children with disabilities, consists of a survey of children’s librarians, in-person interviews with children who have disabilities, and a survey with their parents.

Sonnie completed her first book at the age of 24, Revolutionary Voices, an anthology of writing and artwork by queer youth. The book has the "dubious honor" of being banned in Texas. Because the book addresses issues of sexuality among young adults it was considered "inconsistent with the educational goals of the state."

Her second book is coming out in the spring, co-written with James Tracy and published by Melville House Publishing. Keep on the Firing Line: Working-Class Whites, Radical Politics and the Original Rainbow Coalition is "an historical account of five community organizations from the 1960s-70s that worked to improve social conditions around race, class and gender for poor people." Sonnie invites anyone interested in the book to email her at alynn (at) earthlink.net.