Spectrum Scholar Spotlight: Zaria Whitlock

Zaria Whitlock

Seventeen iSchool master's students have been named 2023-2024 Spectrum Scholars by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services. This "Spectrum Scholar Spotlight" series highlights the School's scholars. MSLIS student Zaria Whitlock earned bachelor's degrees in philosophy and sociology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?

I have always been drawn to service-oriented fields as a broader career goal. I pursued this degree because it combined several personal interests, such as addressing mechanisms that prohibit access to information, learning best practices for locating and distributing information, and analyzing the foundations of access to information in our society.

Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?

I chose the iSchool at Illinois largely due to the robust nature of the program. There are so many opportunities to help students develop into professionals who can effectively approach circumstances from a variety of perspectives.

What particular LIS topics interest you the most?

A few of the LIS topics that interest me are intellectual freedom, cataloging/controlled vocabulary reform, and the fallacy of neutrality in the profession.

What do you do outside of class?

I am a former college basketball player and come from a basketball family, so I love watching and talking about basketball.

What does being a Spectrum Scholar mean to you?

Being a Spectrum Scholar signifies the importance of having representation in every area of our lives. Being a member of the Spectrum Scholar community is an honor and reminds me of the need to actively participate in building communities that reflect our individual realities. The longevity of the community is dependent upon looking beyond the benefits offered to recipients. Being a Spectrum Scholar highlights the significance of reciprocity and the responsibility welcomed by each Scholar to find ways we can contribute our unique gifts and talents in hopes of enriching the community and broadening impact.

What career plans or goals do you have?

I originally pursued this degree with law librarianship in mind, but I am allowing course content and my experiences in the program to shape where I hope to be in the future.