New MLIS Students Win Scholarships with Innovative Use of Pinterest


Five new graduate students beginning the Master of Library and Information Science fully online degree program in spring 2016 at the SJSU School of Information used Pinterest to land $1,000 scholarships. Congratulations and welcome to the iSchool!

Five new graduate students beginning the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program this semester at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information (iSchool) have been selected to receive the spring 2016 Director’s Scholarship for Excellence.  

Sara Heimann, Audry Barriault, Rachel Bryson, Caroline Yin, and Amber Lawrence all showcased their interests in pursuing a career in the information profession through innovative use of the Pinterest social media platform which garnered each of them a $1,000 scholarship.

According to Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, lecturer at the SJSU iSchool and chair of the scholarship committee, the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence was created to recognize “outstanding students who have been accepted to the iSchool.” The scholarship application requires newly admitted students to create a Pinterest board that either captures how they envision the future as an information professional or why the student desires to become an information professional.

“Recipients are chosen based on their academic achievements, and their ability to creatively express their anticipation of the journey they face in participating in and preparing for their new profession,” explained Stenstrom. “Using Pinterest as a platform for the scholarship process is a unique and enjoyable way for applicants to show the committee how they’ll contribute to the iSchool and the information profession.”


Heimann, who got a degree in accounting before deciding to pursue library and information science, used an acrostic form on her Pinterest board to express all the facets of the information professional career that appeal to her. Inspired by Aretha Franklin, she linked each letter in “information professional” with an image from popular culture that illustrates some aspect of the field.

“When designing my Pinterest board, I was hoping to take a nontraditional approach that would not only convey why I want to be an information professional, but also show my personality,” stated Heimann. “It was really fun, and sometimes challenging, to take something of interest to me that has no obvious connection to the information profession and use it as a way to express my thoughts and ideas. I found the process incredibly enjoyable and am thankful to have had such an innovative and unique opportunity.”

Barriault also drew on popular culture on her board, which uses the tune of the theme from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to rap about the importance of libraries and librarians. “Each couplet explains how public libraries affect residents and how librarians can and should impact the experience of patrons,” elaborated Barriault, who is currently a collection development representative with YBP Library Services in New Hampshire.

For Barriault, the Pinterest requirement for the scholarship made perfect sense. “To be successful, librarians need to understand social media, they need to be creative, and they need to be more technologically savvy than ever before,” she remarked.  “I’m so excited that my demonstration of these abilities landed me the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence!”

Yin also enjoyed the social media aspect of the scholarship application. “I had so much fun putting my Pinterest board together and searching for inspiring news articles, images, and quotes throughout the internet,” she commented. Having grown up in libraries, Yin sees information professionals as “superheroes” and used the superhero idea as a theme for her board. “I highlighted examples of some awesome programs going on at various libraries in the world that have particularly inspired me, and included some of my favorite quotes about libraries and their value to society,” she explained.

Bryson, an avid Pinterest user with 489 boards to her credit, used the board created for her application, titled “We Will Not Be Shushed,”  to express why libraries are worth fighting for and how they fit into her future. Drawing on her background in creative writing, Bryson created a collage of words, images, and information to suggest all that libraries are and all that they can be in the future.

Lawrence also evoked the future in her Pinterest board with references to Star Trek, technology, and preservation. Digital curation is a specific interest of hers, and the Digital Curation Center (DCC) Curation Lifecycle Model inspired the space-age theme of her board. “My idea was to have a theme for my Pinterest board and when I saw the diagram for the Curation Lifecycle Model through a link on one of SJSU’s web pages, I thought it looked like a planet with a core and thus the Star Trek theme came to being,” she explained. “I had a blast creating it and the topper was that I started learning what digital curation encompasses.”

Lawrence’s board shows how “the universe of digital data is complex and needs to be managed in such a way that is ever changing.” She stated in one of the pins that her mission as an information professional will be “to protect digital assets from disappearing into a black hole.”

Honored to have been selected for the new student scholarship, Lawrence (pictured above) created a short video expressing her profound gratitude and enthusiasm for starting her learning journey at the SJSU iSchool. “I am thrilled to begin my focus on digital curation” and am “so excited for this new semester,” she happily said.

Echoing that sentiment, Yin stated that she was “so very grateful” and exclaimed, “This scholarship will save me much fretting over finances and allow me instead to focus all my energies toward beginning my studies in library and information science!”

Stenstrom reported that many applications for the scholarships were received by the committee, but that “the five recipients of the spring 2016 scholarships clearly stood out.” In addition to being shining examples of the high caliber of information professionals studying at the SJSU School of Information, Stenstrom also noted the five scholarship winners exemplify the geographic diversity of those in the exclusively online MLIS program and hail from four different U.S. states.

Congratulations to all the scholarship winners, and welcome to the SJSU iSchool!