Alumni Award Winners

Each year, the School of Information makes a special effort to recognize the alumni who are transforming the global information environment and making us proud to call them our own. 

Below are the awards and award winners who have received our acclaim for 2022. (Here are our past winners.)

2022 Alumni Award Winners


August Alpers Award

For library and information science graduates who contributed the most to the school as a student, while maintaining a good grade point average.

Kayla Hlad received a M.L.I.S. from Kent State University in 2021. As a student employee for the university (2020 - 2021), Kayla enjoyed supporting the iSchool’s website as well as writing book reviews, articles and social media content for the Reinberger Children’s Library Center. Her favorite project as a student employee was co-writing a guest blog post for ALSC (with Julia Stone) in celebration of the 50th anniversary of ALA’s Pura Belpré Award. 

Kayla’s academic and professional interests include exploring the value of play in library programming and spaces, whole person librarianship, and data collection methods for capturing “engagement” at the public library. Recently, Kayla has worked on an academic paper with Dr. Katie Campana and Jaquie Kociubuk which is under review for publication. Since graduating, Kayla has become a youth librarian at the Columbus Metropolitan Library.



H.F. Group Preservation Award

For library and information science graduates who, as students, demonstrated outstanding scholarship and an interest in the area of library preservation.

Elita Jones earned her undergraduate degree from Muskingum University (2019) and her M.L.I.S. from Kent State University (2021). Her love of preservation began with an interest in music and her desire to collect and preserve it in its various formats. She attributes her professional success to the outstanding History Department and Library Director at Muskingum University who helped her to recognize how her preservation interests could transform into a profession. This led her to Kent State where she was able to develop and refine her preservation and general library science skills and knowledge into a career.

Elita is currently the Outreach Services Manager for the Perry County District Library in Southeastern Ohio. She is thrilled to be a part of bringing library services into the community that she has forever called home. When not at work, she is fortunate enough to be able to spend time with her loving family and friends.



Dan Maclachlan School Library Media Award

For library and information science graduates who have exhibited creativity, leadership and dedication to the K-12 audience.

Jami Derrow graduated from Kent State University in 2021 with an MLIS + K-12 School Library Media Licensure, and she was able to put her degree to use immediately, landing her dream job in Olentangy Local School District's brand new building, Shale Meadows Elementary School. There, she managed the budget and worked with vendors to bring an empty library to life in time for opening day of school. By August, the library was full of flexible seating, a diverse and inclusive collection of books, and a Makerspace full of building supplies, robotics, coding and more. The library quickly became the heart of the school for students and staff alike, bringing learning, laughter and hands-on exploration to all who enter.



Dan MacLachlan School Library Media Award

For library and information science graduates who have exhibited creativity, leadership and dedication to the K-12 audience.

Residing in Washington D.C., Kevin Lee is a former classroom teacher and a 2021 MLIS graduate from Kent State University. During his practicum, he was fortunate enough to work with the head of library programs for District of Columbia Public Schools, Dr. Kevin Washburn. The valuable perspective he gained from this experience led him to become the school librarian at Stoddert Elementary School in Northwest D.C.

In his brief time at the school, they have seen district-leading numbers in Sora ebook checkouts, organized book fairs and book drives, emphasized diversity and acceptance in their lessons, and enjoyed pizza and board games for students who completed reading challenges during a fun School Library Month. Lee loves being able to connect with every student in his school and share the wonderful word of reading with them all!



Janice Smuda Children's Librarianship Award

For library and information science graduates who, as students, demonstrated creativity, leadership, and dedication to children's librarianship through outstanding academic achievement.

Amy Kyungeun Breslin earned her MLIS from Kent State University (2021). Amy is a Youth Outreach Librarian for Lorain Public Library System and was previously a Children’s Services Assistant for Cuyahoga County Public Library. She focuses her work on family engagement, literacy justice and building effective community partnerships. She attributes her professional successes to the APALA Mentoring program (2019) and APALA community. She is an ALA Spectrum Scholar (2019), Co-Chaired the APALA Family Literacy Focus Committee (2020-2022) and serves on the ALA Committee on Literacy (2022-2023). She served as a panelist for the Path to Leadership: National Forum on Advancing Asian/Pacific Islander American Librarianship (an IMLS-funded forum organized by APALA and CALA, 2022). She co-authored the “APALA Rubric to Evaluate Asian American and Pacific Islander Youth Literature” (2021). Amy co-presented for the Augusta Baker Diversity Lecture Series (2022) and has been invited to co-present for the ALSC National Institute (2022).



Thomas J. Froehlich Award

For academic excellence and promise for leadership in the field of information architecture and knowledge management.

John Antill is currently a Knowledge Manager at US Army Expeditionary Workforce. With over 14 years of progressively responsible knowledge management experience in complex technical roles – both military and civilian – requiring exceptional project coordination, problem solving and management skills, John has established a track record of success by leveraging a collaborative leadership style to accomplish all short- and long-range objectives. An engaging and articulate communicator, he is able to clearly convey complex technical information and propose novel solutions to build consensus with key project stakeholders, including high-value clients and executive leadership. 

Furthermore, his consistent focus on remaining at the forefront of rapidly evolving technology allows him to drive enterprise-wide innovation and maintain a competitive advantage. John is on the Board of Minority Empowerment Through Technology which provides underserved college STEM students to get the technology they need to be successful in their courware and projects.John Holds a Master of Science in Knowledge Management from Kent State university and a Master of Certified Knowledge Management from the KMInstitute.



Alum of the Year (SLIS)

For library and information science graduates who have made a significant contribution to the profession.

Don Pearson, MTS, MBA, MLIS, AHIP is a 2016 graduate of the iSchool. During his MLIS work, Don won the 2015 Jesse H. Shera Memorial Scholarship. He has been working in health sciences libraries since 2012, first as a Knowledge Management/Information Technology Specialist at Mount Carmel Health Sciences Library, then as a Manager of the Patient and Family Resource Center at OSU's James Cancer Hospital. 

During his MLIS, Don did an independent study in medical librarianship, and is currently working on the iSchool's new Medical Librarianship Concentration. He is a past president of the Ohio Health Sciences Library Association (OHSLA) and a senior member of the Medical Library Association's (MLA) Academy of Health Information Professionals. He has specializations in consumer health and disaster information from the MLA. He has published articles in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) and the Journal of Hospital Librarianship.


Alum of the Year (MS)

For graduates who have made a significant contribution to the profession.

Trevor Watkins is the Teaching and Outreach Librarian at George Mason University (GMU) Libraries. He works with faculty, students and researchers on projects, grants and scholarships. He teaches information literacy and provides broader digital era competencies such as numeric, visual, data and spatial instruction. He conducts library carpentry workshops for the Digital Scholarship Center at GMU. 

Mr. Watkins is the Technical Lead and Chair of the Web Committee of Project STAND and is a member of the Technical Advisory Group for the National Finding Aid Network (NAFAN), a collaboration between OCLC, the California Digital Library, Shift Collective, the University of Virginia and the Chain Bridge Group. His research interests include Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Libraries, AI literacy, Human-AI collaboration, and open knowledge diffusion tools. He is a 2021 IMLS fellow of the IDEA Institute on Artificial Intelligence and is a professional member of both IEEE and ACM (SIGAI, SIGCSE). He is also the founder of Grey Alien Technologies, a technology, and cybersecurity company that consults with public and academic libraries.