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.

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Jihan receives scholarship to attend PyCon 2019

MS/LIS student Itzel Jihan has been awarded a scholarship to attend the PyCon 2019 conference, which will be held May 1-9 in Cleveland, Ohio. The conference is the largest annual gathering for the community using and developing the open-source Python programming language. It includes tutorials, talks, events such as a poster session and job fair, and sprints, where developers collaborate on open source projects.

Itzel Jihan

Ferreira appreciates scholarship, Leep program flexibility

For Kelly Ferreira, receiving a Leep Scholarship has made "a world of difference." When she enrolled in the MS/LIS program, she was employed at the Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, Illinois. However, she had to leave her position when she recently moved with her partner across the country. Now working as a library technician at Eastern Florida State College's Palm Bay campus, Ferreira appreciates the flexibility of the Leep online option as well as her scholarship.

Kelly Ferreira

Walkow selected for Mozilla Open Leaders Program

Samantha Walkow, an Informatics PhD student advised by Assistant Professor Matthew Turk, has been accepted into the Mozilla Open Leaders Program. The 14-week mentorship and project management program focuses on internet health and openness. Walkow is part of a cohort in the "culture track," in which participants learn how to design and build an open culture that promotes participation and inclusion.

Sam Walkow

Get to Know: Paolo P. Gujilde (MS ’09), collections & scholarly communications librarian

As the current president of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), Paolo P. Gujilde aims to streamline the organization's workflow and processes, increase membership, and provide more opportunities for members to be involved. He credits the continued support from APALA members for making a very busy year a wonderful one as well.

Paolo Gujilde