Director’s Scholarship for Excellence Recipients Demonstrate Passion for the Information Profession


Creativity abounds in the Pinterest boards created as part of the application process for the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence, the first-ever scholarship awarded to new students beginning the iSchool’s MLIS program in fall 2015.

Five students entering the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information in fall 2015 have been awarded the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence. The scholarship is the first in iSchool history to recognize the potential of new MLIS students to serve as information professionals and take a leading role in shaping the profession.

Hannah Blatchford, Katie Monroe, Beth Berlin-Stephens, Janine Bauer, and Carina Langstraat were selected from a total of 66 applicants. The five scholarships, each in the amount of $1,000, will be applied to the recipients’ tuition expenses during their first semester at the iSchool. The scholarships given to Blatchford, Berlin-Stephens, and Bauer were awarded in memory of Dr. Judy Tessier, an influential professor at the School of Information who passed away earlier this year.

The application process for Director’s Scholarship for Excellence was not your typical essay application. Incoming MLIS students were asked to create a Pinterest board that demonstrated either why the student wishes to become an information professional or what sort of future the student envisions as an information professional. The applications were judged based on innovative use of the Pinterest social media platform to share information, organize ideas, and create engaging visual content.

According to Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, chair of the scholarship committee, the novel application process revealed unique attributes of the incoming students. “A team of reviewers worked very hard in considering all 66 eligible applications and noted how the process highlighted the applicants’ creativity and personalities,” stated Stenstrom. “Using Pinterest as part of the application process was a great way to showcase how social media can be used in unique ways, and brought out the innovative nature of the iSchool.” All five scholarship winners used pins in special ways to answer the question and tell a personal story using the social media platform.

Blatchford’s board, “Why I Decided to Become a Librarian,” uses 29 pins to recount a “tale of drama, adventure, and intrigue” in five chapters. Her “chapters” touch upon her own personal history, describe the ways libraries serve their communities, and express her excitement about the journey she is about to begin, a journey made easier by the scholarship. “Winning this scholarship as I head into my first semester has been a great blessing,” explained Blatchford. “It allows me to worry less about finances as I start the term, and instead focus on starting well in the program.”

Monroe’s board, “Dream Job: Information Professional” focuses on her passion “to ensure the public is able to access and learn from rare books and special collections.” Using 41 pins representing famous collections, digitized works, and the role of the librarian in the 21st century, Monroe creates a collage of the past, present, and future of libraries.

Monroe’s career goals also reflect a historian’s interest in preservation. “Thanks to the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence, I can pursue my studies in special collections libraries, particularly on museum and archival collections,” said Monroe. “I hope to learn how to ensure our past’s manuscript and archival heritage is preserved for tomorrow’s researchers.”

Berlin-Stephens, a new teacher librarian in Pinole, California, used hashtags on her 43 pins to explain why she wants to be an information professional. The pins she chose focus on diversity, information literacy, and the creative ways libraries can encourage reading. “Sharing a love of reading with students is what drives my work,” explained Berlin-Stephens. “I am so thankful to receive this scholarship to help me continue with my own growth and learning.”

Bauer stated that she was “thrilled” to receive the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence, “especially since I was able to earn it through using my creativity to showcase my love for libraries.” She used her Pinterest board, “I Want to…,” to focus on an increasingly important part of the librarian’s job: marketing. Bauer’s 48 pins demonstrate how she plans to use her education at the iSchool. Each pin’s image, read left to right, tells her story. “With my education I want to create awesome book displays to encourage people,” reads the subtitle of the board. “I want to post captivating signs to inspire people. I want to use social media to engage people. I want to promote the library to help people.”

Bauer is eager for her iSchool classes to begin. “The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence award will enable me to take more classes,” she explained, “and I’m so thankful for that because I’m anxious to get started learning!”

Langstraat used her board, “The Courageous Librarian,” to express how she was inspired to become an information professional by librarians of the past and present. Her 48 pins demonstrate how librarians “regularly stand up to those who want to restrict our access to information–and that takes courage.”

Langstraat is already looking forward to a collegial and courageous education at the iSchool. “I feel a strong sense of community with the SJSU staff and students already,” said Langstraat. “My initial sense that SJSU excels in online learning has been confirmed on multiple levels.  I am grateful for this scholarship and look forward to my future semesters at SJSU.”

The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence will be awarded to five more new MLIS students in spring 2016. In order to be eligible, incoming students need to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.5. Applications for the spring 2016 Director’s Scholarship for Excellence will be accepted beginning on September 1, 2015. More information about the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence and other iSchool scholarships is available on the Scholarship, Award, and Grant Information web page.

The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence was made possible by generous donations from alumni, students, faculty, and friends. More support is needed in order to continue awarding the scholarship to future incoming students. Donations may be made online using a credit or debit card via the school’s scholarship donation page.

Related Content:

  • Scholarship recipients Janine Bauer and Beth Berlin-Stephens both created videos to express their gratitude for receiving the Director’ Scholarship for Excellence. Watch their short videos on the iSchool’s YouTube channel.