iSchool Awards Scholarships to 27 Students for Spring


San José State University School of Information has awarded scholarships to 27 incoming and continuing students for spring 2020, totaling $38,394, to assist them as they pursue graduate degrees. Each award is valued at $1,422.

Students pursuing their Master of Library and Information ScienceMaster of Archives and Records Administration, or Master of Science in Informatics were encouraged to apply for three scholarship opportunities: The Director’s Scholarship for Excellence, the Special Session Scholarship for Incoming Students, and the Special Session Scholarship for Continuing Students.

The scholarship applications showcased creativity and visual storytelling using graphics and software applications like emaze, Powtoon and Prezi. Incoming students applying for the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence created infographics to convey their interest in a career in the information profession and express issues that are important to them. The presentation applications for the Special Session Scholarships demonstrated applicants’ knowledge of the impact of library and archives professions on global communities and highlighted the importance of professional leadership.

Director’s Scholarships for Excellence

Endowed with donations from faculty, alumni, and friends of the iSchool, the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence recognizes the potential of new students to take leading roles in shaping their professions as they embark on their master’s degree journeys. Four incoming students received the Director’s Scholarship of Excellence, totaling $5,688 in award funding.

Kaylin Braden, future Informatics student, currently works as a business systems analyst for the city of Corona, California. “Creating my infographic was a very rewarding approach to defining my career path while acknowledging the values, ideas, and challenges that will be critical to implement and address throughout my journey,” she said.

Braden, who had no prior experience applying for scholarships, said the user-friendly application process combined with the innovative prompt was a “huge draw” as she considered applying for the scholarship.

Receiving the email that she had been awarded the scholarship was “mind-boggling!” said Braden, who plans to utilize the knowledge and skills obtained from pursuing her degree to advance her career in the public sector, “while working hard to identify new and exciting ideas that will help positively impact the lives of others.”

Upon receiving the news that she’d been awarded the scholarship, Braden reflected: “There was an initial whirlwind of emotions buzzing through my head as I processed everything, but pride, gratitude, and, of course, shock would definitely be the top three contenders. I am very appreciative to the School of Information for providing students with such wonderful opportunities.”  

In her winning infographic, Laura Gaskill turned the spotlight on youth services and the need for more diverse books. “Before I submitted my infographic, I showed it to my 9-year-old son, who said it was ‘pretty cool,’ so I thought I might have shot at winning…I’m glad the committee agreed!” she said.

“Returning to graduate school after nearly a decade as a working mom, it’s really important to me to minimize the loan burden on my family as much as possible, and this scholarship is a huge help that I’m incredibly grateful for,” said Gaskill.

In her infographic, Libraries for All, Jessica Kruse echoed the call for diversity and highlighted her interest in public librarianship. While acknowledging that financial help was one inspiration for applying for the scholarship, Kruse said she was excited to do the research and put together an infographic. “It is the most creative scholarship application process I’ve seen, and it made me excited to begin my education at SJSU.”

“When I found out I had won, I was ecstatic and proud,” Kruse said. “It’s been a few years since I was last in school, and I have two small children now, so just knowing I’m still able to focus and work on something that really matters gave me confidence in my ability to complete the MLIS program.” 

Elissa Vura embraced a new challenge in making her winning presentation, Service Through Public Librarianship. “I had never made an infographic or digital poster before, but I liked the idea of creating of a wholly electronic piece that would require me to succinctly marry message and design,” she said. “The process appealed to my sensibilities as both writer and artist.”

“By the time I submitted my entry, I knew that even if it did not win, the learning experience itself was valuable. Upon hearing that I won the scholarship, I was elated. It is truly an honor to be among the recipients,” Vura said.

Vura, who started working for the San Antonio Public Library in 2013, will be pursuing her MLIS degree so she can become a librarian and “use my talents with greater impact on the community I love.”

Special Session Scholarships for Incoming Students

Arcelia Aguirre was one of 12 MLIS students who received a Special Session Scholarship for incoming students. Her passion for working in libraries was sparked when she volunteered at a public library while in community college, and grew when she began working as a student assistant in the academic library of California State University Dominguez Hills, a position she held for four years.

Despite her experience and determination, Aguirre doubted she would be awarded the scholarship, and was “quite shocked” to learn that her presentation, Academic Library Leadership in an Information Environment, had won.

Aguirre credits her supervisors, librarians at CSUDH, for inspiring her to apply for the scholarship. “They all seemed so spirited and knowledgeable in their subjects, and I wanted to be like that, too,” she said. “I wanted to help incoming students get adjusted in our academic library and express what we have to offer to them. I will never forget what they taught me throughout my four years of studying and working with them.”

Lauren Bauer, who has worked in Access Services at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California, for the past six years, wanted to focus her presentation on student equity and the first-year experience by exploring some of the issues students face when trying to get an education.

“One of the things our entire staff is really proud of is our commitment to OER (Open Educational Resources) and other avenues of getting zero-cost textbooks to as many students as possible,” she said. In 2017-2018, PCC enrolled more students in courses with free textbook options than any other college or university in the United States.

Besides the financial support, Bauer said the nicest part about receiving the scholarship was that she felt the scholarship committee “really validated” her interest in librarianship, as well as her plans for using the MLIS degree.

“Student equity, especially focusing on non-traditional students, is a big part of what I want to study throughout my educational career, and it was a big affirmation for me to know that the scholarship committee takes it seriously, too,” she said. 

Lindsay Call, a “freshly minted” library associate at a small branch in a large southern California public library system, emphasized the importance of digital literacy in her winning presentation, Impacting My Community Through Public Librarianship.

After creating an outline based on the scholarship guidelines, Call used her presentation to showcase her relevant skills, as well as her recent career transition into a public library, including “some of the joys and challenges I’ve faced so far, and how those might affect the classes I take and my career path.”

Call also did a lot of thinking about which digital format would be the best way to present the information she’d written up. “I ended up creating a Prezi presentation, where I put all those elements together,” she said.

When she realized she’d been awarded the scholarship, Call was “beyond excited,” but also “very humbled.” Having only recently begun her career in a public library, she said the fact that the Student Awards and Scholarships Committee saw potential in her felt especially meaningful, and cemented her feelings that she is on the right track career-wise. “I also feel even more motivated to work my hardest as I begin the program after receiving this award,” she said. “I think I even did a little happy dance at my desk.”

Chelsea Gabotero, who has worked for the Public Library of Cinncinati and Hamilton County, kept a blog to record her experience working in libraries and used it to brainstorm ideas for her winning presentation, HIRED!  

“While I’m very proud of my presentation and all the work experience that inspired it, I was still surprised to find I’d received the scholarship,” she said. “Reflecting on all this has really helped to dispel any anxiety or doubt I had about grad school.”

Allison Gammons started thinking about applying for the scholarship around the same time that she started applying to the MLIS program, and was “so thrilled” when she learned that her presentation, Impacting Diverse Communities Through Service, had won. “This is my second master’s degree, and I know that every little bit helps, so I knew that applying to scholarships was something I HAD to do,” she said.

Though she initially struggled with so many topics and formats to choose from, Gammons quickly found herself gravitating toward inclusion and diversity, and a website base that was both familiar and best fit her vision of how to navigate the presentation. “Once I figured out the presentation and topic the biggest problem was narrowing down my focus, not going overboard with research, and making sure I was putting together a clear presentation!”

Feeling grateful and inspired after winning the scholarship, Gammons said, “It means a lot to me, an encouragement that I am making the right choice taking up this career path at this point in my life, and that I have chosen the right place to pursue this education.”

Special Session MLIS Scholarships for Continuing Students

For her presentation, Helping to Navigate College Enrollment, Rachel DeBoer drew on research for a class on college enrollment inequality that she was passionate about, put everything else aside and “jumped into” creating her presentation in the week before the submission due date.

“The scholarship gave me an opportunity to investigate the barriers that some college applicants face and research solutions to those problems,” she said. “I started with trying to find a thorough understanding of the problem, attempted to evaluate the solutions that had been tried and then put together how successful solutions might be incorporated into a program.” 

DeBoer felt “overwhelmed” when she learned she’d been selected for the prestigious scholarship. She expressed it will help her financially, allowing her to “spend less time at work and more time studying and with family.”

The scholarship award also affirmed her career decision. “Being awarded this scholarship gave me the confidence to know I am making the right career change and has also allowed me to showcase everything I have learned already at SJSU,” said DeBoer. “It was really a blessing to receive it, and I am very grateful.” 

“During my first semester at SJSU I have been taken aback by how kind and supportive everyone at the iSchool is. There has been a lot of variety in the curriculum and a lot of ways to stretch my creativity. I have learned so much already.” – Rachel DeBoer

In her presentation titled Supporting International Students, Sam Kennefick demonstrates how librarians help foster international cooperation and collaboration and are strengthening the global community by supporting international students.

Before enrolling in the MLIS program at the iSchool, Kennefick taught science at the K-12 level for four years. “Being recognized by the scholarship committee instills confidence in me that I made the right choice to jump out of a safe career and instead dive headfirst into pursuing my passion to become an academic librarian,” she said.

Carol Ng-He, who chose Prezi for her presentation, Journey to Leadership Building in External Professional Associations, because of its high level of flexibility and aesthetic quality, previously received the Special Session Scholarship for New Students, and decided to apply again right after she received that first scholarship. “I felt encouraged by the initial award and support of the iSchool to my educational pursuits,” she said.

“I started with choosing the topic that resonated with me the most and that I had more substantive materials to share for my presentation,” Ng-He said. “I strived to create a good balance of text, images, and multimedia elements in my presentation to make it dynamic, concise, and engaging.”

Ng-He said she felt “overjoyed and grateful” to learn she’d won. “To me, the scholarship affirms my professional efforts and it boosts my confidence in reaching my goal.”

Betsy Snow found out she’d been awarded the scholarship for her presentation, Supervising the Extended Essay, after a tough weekend of writing and researching.

“I was feeling overwhelmed as finals loomed while pressure at work was building as well,” she recalled. “The scholarship was just the boost of good energy I needed to push me through the end of the semester. I am truly grateful for the award as it was just the bit of validation I needed at the time.”

Snow, who will graduate with her MLIS in May 2020, said she wanted to submit a presentation that blended her application of what she’s learned at the iSchool with how she applies it in her high school Media Center. “I am proud of the work I produce, and I am so grateful to see it acknowledged publicly by the iSchool,” she enthused.

Scholarship Eligibility

Newly admitted students are encouraged to apply for both the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence, as well as the Special Session Scholarship awards. Special Session students enrolled in the MLIS, MARA or Informatics program for at least one term are eligible to apply for the Special Session Scholarship awards.

Applications for fall scholarships will be accepted beginning on January 6, 2020, and the deadline to apply is May 1, 2020.

To learn more, visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships web page.

Endowed and Donated Scholarships

The iSchool also awards several endowed and donated scholarships each spring. Students interested in applying for endowed and donated scholarships should complete and submit the iSchool Scholarship Application Form. Applications will be accepted between March 1 and March 29. Scholarships awarded in the spring will be dispersed toward a recipient’s course fees during the fall semester.

Spring 2020 Scholarship Recipients


Kaylin Braden
Laura Gaskill
Jessica Kruse
Elissa Vura


Arcelia Aguirre
Lauren Bauer
Lindsay Call
Chelsea Gabotero
Allison Gammons
Rita Ghazala
Carrie McClung
Jubilee Nale
Corey Purcell
Linea Stern
Jessica Stoner
Tessy Walker


Aashna Ram


Melissa Kemp


Rachel DeBoer
Erin Fussell
Micah Kehrein
Samantha Kennefick
Carol Ng-He
Terry Schiavone
Elizabeth (Betsy) Snow
Morgan Taylor
Emily Westa