iSchool Students Selected as 2017/18 ALA Spectrum Scholars


Seven students enrolled in the MLIS degree program at the San José State University School of Information were awarded 2017/18 Spectrum Scholarships from the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services.

Seven students enrolled in the 100% online Master of Library and Information Science degree program at the San José State University School of Information were awarded 2017/18 Spectrum Scholarships from the American Library Association’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services.

A committee of nine jurors selected SJSU students Michelle Peralta, Julia Christy, Rashida Skaar, Jasmine Cedeno, Julian Jaravata, Marie Faye D. Barrera, and Sue Yang-Peace for the prestigious scholarships.

According to a news release, the Spectrum Scholarship program received three times as many applications as there were available scholarships for the 2017 application cycle. The 60 total scholars were selected based on their “commitment to diversity, commitment to entering the library profession, demonstrated community outreach, academic ability and achievements and leadership potential.”

Peralta, who works as an archivist at the Escondido Public Library’s local history archive, was previously selected to participate in the 2016-17 Association of Research Libraries/Society of American Archivists’ Mosaic program, which strives to promote diversification of the archives and special collections professional workforce. She said she was delighted when she learned of being chosen for the ALA Spectrum Scholarship.

“Through the Spectrum program, I have access to a wide network of information professionals who are actively engaged in the work of equity and inclusion, and I already feel very supported and encouraged in my studies and pursuits by other scholars,” she said.

With an expected graduation date of May 2018, Christy (pictured left) said the Spectrum program is preparing her for life after the MLIS. “It helps me professionally by giving me the tools I need to successfully launch myself into the field of librarianship,” she explained. “Someday I hope to become a children’s librarian who focuses on developing innovative programming and performing outreach, especially to diverse communities.”

Christy works as a library assistant at the Alameda County Library System helping with the preschool outreach program, which uses a bookmobile to travel to preschools throughout the county for story time and to assist children with selecting books.

“I was ecstatic when I heard that I had been selected as a Spectrum Scholar! So many other amazing librarians that I look up to and admire have been recipients of this scholarship, and it is such an honor to now be counted amongst them,” she said.

Skaar (pictured right) expressed being named a Spectrum Scholar feels like “an incredible vote of confidence,” and she hopes to make a meaningful contribution to the field of library science and the community she serves.

“The scholarship itself will enable me to take some next steps toward becoming a librarian, and the mentoring opportunities will enable me to grow professionally,” she said, adding, “I really believe that ultimately this scholarship will help me to build bridges for young people of diverse backgrounds who are interested in the library profession.”

Skaar  works as a teen services library assistant at the Hercules Library in the Contra Costa Library System and has her sights set on becoming a reference librarian. “I love everything about libraries and library science, but I am really enjoying working in public libraries where I can help people from all walks of life and backgrounds,” she shared.

Earning the scholarship will help Cedeno achieve her goal of earning a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. “It is an amazing opportunity to not only lessen a huge financial burden but to also meet an entire community of like-minded individuals,” she said.  In addition to being a SJSU student, Cedeno is an interdepartmental library assistant at Southington Public Library in Southington, Connecticut.

As a Turock Scholar, Jaravata said he’s interested in designing and developing programming and collections that meaningfully respond to the backgrounds and cultures of the south Bay Area.

“It meant a lot to be named a [Turock Scholar] and continue the legacy of fighting for social justice that Dr. Betty Turock trail blazed for those in the library profession. I decided to pursue an MLIS as a way to continue the activism and community organizing in the local and international Filipino community that eventually led me toward librarianship,” he said.

“I think the most exciting aspect of the scholarship is being part of a community of aspiring librarians and information professionals who are mindful of how their experiences within their own communities shape their career path, and that these experiences can help us reflect on what it means to uphold social justice in the profession and serve and work alongside communities in order to do so,” shared Jaravata.

SJSU students named Spectrum Scholars from the last 10 years are listed on the scholarship web page.