Eight students named ALA 2014 Spectrum Scholars

Eight GSLIS master's students have been named 2014 Spectrum Scholars by the American Library Association (ALA). Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program was created to promote diversity among graduate-level library school students. Each master's-level scholar receives $5,000 from the ALA as well as over $1,500 toward professional development opportunities. In addition, GSLIS provides each scholar with a tuition waiver. Illinois residents who are recipients of the Spectrum Scholarship also receive a grant from the Sylvia Murphy Williams Fund, given by the Illinois Library Association (ILA).

Alonso Avila (Giles Scholar) is entering his second year at GSLIS and specializing in special collections. He is interested in the fusion of hip-hop and librarianship and their potential to promote literacy and social awareness.

"I am humbled to be a recipient of the ALA Spectrum Scholarship and look forward to the opportunities that ALA has to offer. This scholarship will not only help me to complete my degree in Spring 2015, but it will also enable me to network with professionals and learn how to work with the local and academic communities. It is also a great honor to be a part of a larger cohort who are committed to serving the public and fostering inclusion in LIS."

Lucy Gonzalez (ACRL Scholar) is interested in youth literacy and the role of libraries in support of underrepresented communities, specifically with regard to libraries’ impact on access to higher education. She plans to work as a reference librarian in an academic library.

“The Spectrum Scholarship is a huge part of achieving my own academic goals. It will expose me to many individuals who are also passionate about library and information science as well as opportunities to make an impact in this field. I will be able to work towards my degree so that I may one day help others to achieve their own academic goals as well through the role of reference librarian.”

Bradley Kuykendall is a second-year master’s student and current treasurer of the ALA Student Chapter. Interested in academic and corporate libraries, he is an ARL Career Enhancement Program Fellow at the National Library of Medicine and works for John Deere at the University of Illinois Research Park.

“This Spectrum Scholarship gives me the opportunity to be a part of a great network of individuals in the LIS community, where I can gain valuable knowledge and wisdom as I navigate through my career, as well as help support my financial needs while in school.”

Jhani Miller is studying community informatics and conducting research in central and southern Illinois.

“I was thrilled to learn of my selection as a Spectrum Scholar, and I am quite honestly still at a loss for words. I'm excited about this opportunity to widen my professional network, learn more about ALA, and continue my research. I cannot thank everyone enough for their confidence, and I am truly humbled by it all. It has been an honor to learn next to so many gifted peers while here, and I look forward to continuing this amazing, academic journey at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.”

Jerrod Moore (NLM/MLA Scholar) is studying community informatics and is a Mix IT Up! scholar. He hopes to improve diversity in the LIS professions as director of an undergraduate library.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected as a Spectrum Scholar. I know that there were many qualified candidates who were not chosen, and I am a bit overwhelmed to be amongst the few who were chosen. It is extremely rewarding and validating to know that my hard work is being noticed and rewarded. I would be remiss if I did not thank the faculty and staff at GSLIS for all they do to make all that we have and will accomplish possible.”

Maria San Ramon will begin taking classes at GSLIS this summer as a LEEP student. She will pursue a Certificate in Youth Services and plans to continue working as a young adult librarian after completing her degree. She hopes to eventually advance to an administrative position.

“The Spectrum Scholarship is an opportunity for me to go back to graduate school and achieve my dream.”

Alejandra Santana (William R. Gordon Scholar) is earning a master’s degree with a Certificate in Youth Services and plans to work in a public library setting, possibly in her hometown, Chicago.

“This scholarship means the world to me. I've always had to pay for schooling myself, and I was really worried this year because I didn't know if I would be able to, but then I received this scholarship! The opportunities and the networking possibilities can really open doors and help me in that first step to starting a career, and I can't wait to start!”

Jason Toms is interested in the cultural appropriation of minority identities, the assumptions surrounding librarians as neutral and nonjudgmental public servants, and the roles of race, gender, and sexuality in answering the question of what it means to be an informed citizen.

“This scholarship serves as an inspiring reminder that hard work and dedication is eventually rewarded. This scholarship invigorates my faith in myself and my ambition for recognition of who I am and what I offer. I come from humble beginnings, but I have been blessed with this prestigious acknowledgement. I want to inspire other minorities to support the vitality of the library and information science profession with a career as an academic librarian at Columbia University or New York University. My first master’s degree is in sociology and my LIS degree will situate me as competitive in a field that is lacking minority voices.”

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