Jhani Miller (MS '15), assistant branch manager for the Brooklyn Public Library, is an aerial artist who has competed nationally, performed off-Broadway, and taught the first-ever public library pole dance class in the U.S.
In recognition of the 20th anniversary of the School Librarian Licensure program, the iSchool is highlighting 20 school librarians who have made a difference in the field. Kim Anderson (MS '07, CAS '09), librarian at Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, loves being a school librarian and mentoring future librarians. Through the years, she has mentored 25 practicum and student teachers in her role as a cooperating librarian. She also contributes her time and expertise as a member of the iSchool's School Librarian Licensure program advisory board.
For Mariah and Fernanda Schaefer (both MS '20), having your twin as a study partner when going through graduate school was extremely helpful. Originally from Brazil, the Schaefer sisters received their bachelor's degrees—Mariah in journalism and Fernanda in advertising—and master's degrees from the University of Illinois.
Mayank Vijaywargia (MS '19) credits his iSchool coursework with preparing him for managing, cleaning, and interpreting data to make strategic decisions; prototyping for data products; and building data warehouses in his job at Ernst & Young LLP. He encourages current students to choose their courses wisely, keeping in mind what they want to do in their future careers.
Students in the second-grade classroom at Villa Grove CUSD #302 are enjoying 80 new culturally diverse books, thanks to the fundraising efforts of their teacher. For Kelly Vail, an iSchool MS/LIS online student, the best part of her teaching job is reading with her students, encouraging the discovery of "books that help them fall in love with reading."
Saundra Nettles (MS '68) credits the iSchool with teaching her skills, such as systems thinking and interdisciplinary teamwork, that she has been able to transfer across work settings in diverse organizations. Nettles, who also holds a PhD in psychology from Howard University, has served as a special recruit at the Library of Congress, librarian at the Moorland-Spingarn Center at Howard University, principal research scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Social Organization of Schools, and faculty member at the University of Maryland, Georgia Southern University, and University of Illinois.
In response to the World Health Organization's (WHO) need for timely, accurate, and searchable material about COVID-19, Elaine R. Hicks—research, education, and public health librarian at Tulane University in New Orleans—pulled together an ad hoc organization she named the Librarian Reserve Corps (LRC). Among those who answered her call for volunteers were Stacy Brody, reference and instruction librarian at the George Washington University (GWU) School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD; and Sara Loree, medical librarian at St. Luke’s Health System, Boise, ID, both of whom soon stepped up to serve as the project's co-leads.
Pujeethaa Jakka (MS ’19), data scientist at Pattern Computer Inc., credits the iSchool’s courses in applied business research, data visualization, and data mining with playing a crucial role in helping her achieve her professional goals.
Sanket Sinha (MS '18) uses the technical, interpersonal, and analytical skills he developed at the iSchool in his work as a senior data scientist at The Kraft Heinz Company. For Sinha, the combination of coursework and experiential learning opportunities make the MS/IM program "truly transformative and rewarding."
By the time that Nancy Balz (BA LAS '70, MS/LIS '72) decided to become a public librarian, over twenty years had passed since she had received her LIS degree. She had worked in an archive, academic setting, and bookstore, serving as a word researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary and as a researcher for book authors. While she was interested in working in a public library, she wondered if she was up to the task, with so much time having passed since earning her degree, along with the increasingly online nature of library work.
The iSchool Alumni Association (ISAA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 ISAA awards: Safiya Noble (MS '09, PhD '12), Distinguished Alumna Award; Thomas Padilla (MS '14), Leadership Award; and Meg Edwards (MS '04), Distinguished Service Award.
Sherry Williams (MS '19) has a personal connection to her work as president and founder of the Bronzeville Historical Society. The Bronzeville neighborhood, located on Chicago’s South Side, was known as the "Black Metropolis" during its heyday in the early twentieth century. The Great Migration brought many African Americans to Bronzeville, including Williams’ grandmother, who moved to the area from the Delta of Mississippi in 1942.
"Crisis informatics," a term coined by iSchool alumna Chris Hagar (PhD '05) and Leysia Palen, professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is now a well-established area of study. Crisis informatics explores the interconnectedness of information, people, and technologies in crises and examines the intersecting trajectories of social, technical, and information dynamics during the full life cycle of a crisis. While Hagar first used the term in her PhD dissertation, which focused on the UK's foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001, there are many similar information challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this period of increased remote work due to COVID-19, Juliana Perry (MS '09) is using skills that she learned from taking and supporting online classes as a Leep graduate assistant while earning her MS/LIS degree from the iSchool. Perry works as an enterprise project manager for the University of the Sciences (USciences) in Philadelphia.
John Gough (MS '14) works for the University of Texas at Austin in the University Development Office (UDO). UDO is the fundraising arm of the university and oversees philanthropic giving from alumni, friends, foundations, and corporations totaling several hundred million dollars every year. As the senior executive director for advancement data operations and strategy, he oversees over twenty individuals across three teams responsible for gift and data processing, data quality, business intelligence, and predictive analytics.
As baseball teams gear up for spring training this month, Jack Bales (MS '74) will begin another season of following—and researching—the Chicago Cubs, a team whose history he knows well. Bales, a reference and humanities librarian, combined his expert research skills and interest in the Cubs to author a book on the team's early history. His book, Before They Were Cubs: The Early Years of Chicago's First Professional Team, was published last spring by McFarland & Company.
In the very back of the American Writers Museum there is a corner where two walls meet, each filled from top to bottom with words, seemingly random. The light is low, and people gather as a projector illuminates these words to highlight quotes from famous authors and create shapes such as rolling waves and the distinct torch of the Statue of Liberty. Every eight minutes it refreshes itself and is mesmerizing to watch. It creates meaning out of disorder, ever-changing both in perspective and content.
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.