Alumna Becky Miller Wins Travel Award to SLA Conference

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Miller, who finished her MLIS degree in spring 2009, is embarking on a new career as a librarian. Miller earned her undergraduate degree in environmental science at Brown University and her Master’s in conservation biology and sustainable development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She previously worked as a biological technician for the US Department of Agriculture before becoming a biologist for an environmental consulting firm.

While working for the USDA, Miller realized how much she enjoyed the process of finding and organizing scientific information. The experience sparked fond memories of working in a public library in her teens, and she began to think that she might be able to pursue a career “that blends together” her enjoyment of research and biology. So she began taking a few SLIS classes, and once she took INFO 210 Reference Services, she was hooked. “That class was a lot of fun, and it’s what made me think, ‘OK, I could really do this, ” she said.

San José State University School of Information’s flexible class schedule allowed Miller to continue at her day job as a biologist, and later she also interned as a reference librarian at the University of San Francisco’s Gleeson Library and at the California Academy of Science. “I couldn’t have dabbled in these classes or given librarianship a try if the schedule hadn’t been so flexible,” she said.

Miller hopes to land a job either as an academic reference librarian or with a non-profit organization, government agency, or company that can utilize her science background.

Miller first became aware of SLA and its specialized divisions when she saw an announcement on the iSchool list serv that the group was giving away a free membership to the person who drew up the most compelling marketing plan to reach out to students. Miller won the competition and became involved in SLA, which provides networking and professional development opportunities for information professionals who work in special libraries.

“SLA is a great organization,” she said. “The local chapters tend to be very active, and attending local events or getting involved with activities in your chapter or division is a good way to network and build new skills.”

Miller won the SLA Environment & Resource Management Division’s Student Award, which includes a $500 scholarship plus $750 in travel expenses. The award is given to a student interested in pursuing a career as an information professional dealing with environmental and resource management issues.