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 Abigail Deweese earned her bachelor's degree in global studies with a concentration in peace and conflict from Principia College.
Why did you decide to pursue an LIS degree?
The various social justice elements of the information sciences field really appealed to me, especially during and after the pandemic. As an Asian American, I have experienced discrimination, but this reached a peak during the pandemic when the narrative that the COVID-19 virus originated in China created a domino effect that saw a rise in attacks against Asians worldwide. In an increasingly digital age, when we are being inundated with information from all sides with varying degrees of credibility, it becomes increasingly important to be aware of where and how we receive knowledge, as well as how we wield it. LIS encourages people to be responsible and compassionate global citizens by emphasizing the conscientious management and dispersion of information.
Why did you choose the iSchool at Illinois?
Having only two required courses meant that I could take an array of classes that interested me and not be limited to a small selection of degree-specific courses. I also loved the flexibility the online Leep program offered for remote students—I could still receive an education from world-renowned professors without having to give up my job or fully relocate.
What particular LIS topics interest you the most?
There are so many! I am interested in diversity and social justice, cultural informatics and heritage, computing for social good, computational science, and information access and literacy, just to name a few.
What do you do outside of class?
I currently work full-time at an academic library, but beyond work and classes, I love to read, bake and cook, knit, and be outside!
What does being a Spectrum Scholar mean to you?
To me, it means being an active agent for change. The Spectrum Scholarship program is a community of support, diversity, inclusion, and advocacy. Members are encouraged to have their voices heard as well as lift up others and ensure everyone has a seat at the table. Most importantly, Spectrum Scholars challenge the status quo and collaborate with those who have different experiences. Such rich exchanges open up worldviews and result in innovative solutions for change.
What career plans or goals do you have?
Academic librarianship seems particularly interesting to me at the moment. It would provide opportunities to share the views of the Spectrum Scholarship program with students through information literacy instruction and help them go out into the world with the tools to be responsible global citizens.