Bessant gift to promote career success for LIS students

Donna Bessant
Donna Bessant / Courtesy of Illinois State University

Donna Bessant (MS '70) wants today's library and information science students to succeed in their chosen profession and experience the "joyful rewards" of working with young people, as she did during her career. To lend them a hand, she has directed a portion of her estate to establish scholarships for iSchool students in need. The scholarships will support everyday expenses and advance the short- and long-term goals for students who plan to work with children and young adult services in libraries.

Bessant earned a BS in education from Illinois State University, an MS/LIS from Illinois, and a Certificate of Educational Administration from the University of San Francisco. She began her career as a classroom teacher in a Chicago suburb. Following two years of experience, she joined the Overseas Dependents Schools and taught children from military families in Okinawa and Germany. While in Germany, Bessant began to consider an advanced degree in a field connected to education and ultimately decided, "what better connection could there be than school libraries?"

Bessant started her LIS coursework while still teaching overseas, coming to the University only in the summers of 1966 through 1969. After completing her master's degree, she worked in librarianship and administration in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in California. She also taught courses in information science, literacy, and children's literature for master's programs in various educational institutions.

Bessant retired from the district as director of instructional materials and school libraries in 2000, but she continues to work on literacy projects with the Monterey County Office of Education. Bessant is also involved in additional book and reading projects, including Reading Is Fundamental and the International Board on Books for Young People.

"I received outstanding preparation for library service through the LIS program at Illinois and truly loved my entire career," Bessant said. "Because I accumulated an estate of some value, I chose to share with an educational institution that would train school librarians and assist them with daily expenses. Therefore, I wrote the iSchool at Illinois into my trust and hope that it will support some wonderful people who will bring library collections and services to students in schools."

If you would like to designate your estate gift for a particular use or gift fund within the School, please contact Diana Stroud in the iSchool Advancement Office, (217) 244-9577 or dstroud@illinois.edu. Thank you for your support of our School!

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