Graduating Students Recognized for Excellence


Five outstanding students graduating from the San José State University School of Information have been recognized for their remarkable efforts with awards for excellence.

Allison Randall was given the Director’s Award for Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion for her “outstanding leadership through a work or community service innovation, internship or scholarly research effort benefiting an economically, linguistically or otherwise diverse service population,” according to the award description. Randall has been the writer for the iStudent blog for the past three years and has been motivated to make it a “regular, reliable and informative resource for iSchool students.”

“I hope that my research and insight give people a sense of belonging and familiarity with the school,” she said.

Randall has also taken the same motivation to the student chapter of the American Library Association’s newsletter, Descriptor, as the editor. Since she took over the position, she has updated the blog format to resemble a newsletter to make it “informative, interesting and cohesive,” and has included images.

After graduation, she wants to pursue a job with the public library system in Sonoma County, California, to work with children and families.

“I want to create dynamic programs that give kids a literacy-rich environment and encourage their sense of adventure by bringing in STEM-related projects,” she said.

Randall plans to continue volunteering with EveryLibrary, conducting research to identify voting trends that support sustainable funding for libraries across the country by interviewing librarians, politicians, city employees and community members.

“It’s fascinating work tracking down the right people and trying to get a hold of them as well as hearing about the ways libraries are changing lives in their communities,” she said.

Rebecca Leung had just returned from the Society of American Archivists Student Chapter tour of the Sutro Library in San Francisco when she found she had received the Director’s Award for Excellence in Building Community.

“It seemed particularly fitting to find out [at that time] because I was freshly reminded how wonderful it can be to make connections with students and learn from practicing professionals,” she said. “Through my involvement with student associations like SAASC and the Special Libraries Association Student Chapter, I have endeavored to help build communities of students who share intellectual passions and make connections with the professional world.”

Leung, the outgoing chair of SAASC, is looking for a job in archives. She recently completed an internship at the Bay Area Video Coalition where she learned about digitizing video and media preservation.

“This was an eye-opening internship, and I loved how it exposed me to a different form of archival preservation. My career goal is to incorporate diverse forms of expression into archiving community history,” she said.

Leung will be traveling to India over the summer to attend a friend’s wedding and hopes to learn more about S.R. Ranganathan, who is considered the father of library science in the country, during her visit.

Tracie Landry was selected for the Director’s Award for Excellence in Innovation and believes receiving it would not have been possible without the creative instructional practices of the professors and cutting-edge courses offered by the Master of Library and Information Science online program.

“I was thrilled to win the award. I think it is an exciting time to be working in library and information science, and that we can apply innovation to any facet of our work,” she said.

Landry works as a library and technology integrationist, and spends “a lot” of time online exploring new tech tools, seeing how others are using technology, and talking with teachers and students.

“Combine that with learning techniques like design thinking, game-based learning and service safaris, a background in education, a personality that is easily bored with doing the same thing the same way, and a passion for teaching information literacy and encouraging people to read, and you have the critical ingredients [for excellence in innovation],” she said.

Landry’s professional plans after graduation are searching for a library that is “excited to embrace unique ways to offer information literacy instruction and leverage technology to both promote and enhance library program services and collections.”

Essraa Nawar has already made a name for herself through her regular contributions to her personal blog and publications like The Huffington Post and The Orange County Register. Nawar also spoke at the TED conference at the Technical University of Munich, and as the recipient of the Ken Haycock Award for Professional Promise, she will be the outstanding student speaker at the iSchool’s spring 2017 virtual convocation ceremony. Nawar concludes her master’s degree studies with the Director’s Award for International Contribution.

“Winning [the Director’s Award for International Contribution] is just the start of my commitment to international librarianship, especially helping libraries in my home country, Egypt, and the Middle East,” she said.

Nawar will continue to work as head of development at the Leatherby Libraries at Chapman University and plans to apply for a doctorate in library and information sciences while continuing to publish and present at library conferences around the globe.

Winning the Director’s Award for Excellence in Intellectual Inquiry, Jennifer Weiser said during her MLIS course work she began contacting libraries and information professionals across the country and abroad to learn about their problems, challenges and solutions, gaining insight into the realities of many aspects of librarianship.

“I applied this knowledge to my course work, which often raised further questions and drove deeper inquiry,” she said. “Through this networking experience, I have learned to ‘look up.’ It is easy to focus on one’s own environment and set of issues, but there is a world of solutions around us.”

Weiser said she maintained the philosophy that every assignment, exercise and discussion post was a potential piece of evidence for her future e-portfolio.

“One example of my work ethic and intellectual pursuit is my paper, Libraries and Literacies. It started out as a proposal for an eight-page essay examining literacy priorities of four library environments, and it wrapped up as a 34-page paper with a 10-page resource section. Through this process, I discovered I was quite passionate about literacy issues and policy,” she said.

Weiser is focused on a reference and instruction career and is lining up volunteer work in public libraries while applying for jobs in both public and academic settings.

For more information regarding the Director’s Awards, visit the Awards for Excellence for Graduating Students page. The iSchool’s virtual convocation ceremony will be held on May 20, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. In addition to Nawar’s speech, graduates and their families and friends will hear from Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the iSchool; Dr. Mary Schutten, dean of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts; and Dr. Debra Wallace, executive director of knowledge and library services at the Harvard Business School. For more information about graduation celebrations, visit the spring 2017 graduation page