Advancement experience humbling, empowering for master’s student

Joanna Pike

As the graduate assistant for the iSchool's Office of Advancement, Joanna Pike has learned technical skills, such as finding her way around the University's complex alumni database, but perhaps more importantly, she has gained a new perspective on the importance of giving.

"This position has been incredibly humbling for me," Pike said. "This place, this wonderful School, doesn't just magically function."

She credits the Annual Fund for supporting events that enrich the student experience and provide necessary technology within the School, and she is thankful for her assistantship. 

"When I go to work at my assistantship, I see the money that paid for it all, and I see where that money comes from. It comes from donors, many of whom are our alumni." 

In her position, which she has held since August 2017, Pike supports Director of Alumni Affairs Jill Gengler. She sends thank-you letters to donors, updates alumni records, and connects alumni and students. 

Pike received her bachelor's degree in liberal arts and sciences from Southern Virginia University. Over the years, a few of her friends had graduated with MS/LIS degrees from Illinois. Her connections with these alumni confirmed her decision to enroll in the iSchool.

"I realized that other people with whom I identify and admire are library science people too. When I heard about the classes my friends Emily Loveland, Amanda Monson, and Maria Ricks were taking, they sounded so interesting that I wanted to take them all. Some people pick their degrees based on the jobs they want, but I picked mine based on who I want to be and what I want to learn how to do," she explained.

Pike has enjoyed getting to know iSchool alumni through her work in advancement. She has been touched by their willingness to give back.

"These are people who know how to live frugally and care enough about the School to give us the money they have carefully squirrelled away," she said of the School's alumni. "They are often willing to give their time and expertise through alumni panels, respond to students' requests, and participate in the mentoring program."

In her free time, she enjoys studying with her "not a lap dog" on her lap, spending time with her husband and sister, volunteering with her church's youth group and at the Orpheum Children's Museum, and drawing comics for her blog. 

Pike's experience in the iSchool's Office of Advancement has been eye opening and empowering.

"When someone values you, expects a lot from you, and really believes in you, somehow, you find yourself doing far more than you knew you could," she said. "There is no way I could have made it this far alone. There is someone who will come after me who won't be able to make it without my help."

The iSchool Annual Fund supports activities and programs benefiting students and faculty during the academic year, especially initiatives that are new and innovative. For more information or to contribute, visit the School's online giving page or contact the Office of Advancement at, (217) 300-5746.

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