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SLIS News

Two Kent State Students Earn Scholarships From American Library Association

Posted Jul. 25, 2011
Don Jason
Don Jason

Two students from the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University, Marisol Vasquez and Don Jason, have been named 2011 American Library Association’s Spectrum Scholars.

Each student received a $5,000 scholarship, along with numerous benefits in addition to the scholarship funds. Some benefits included are: access to posted information on job/internship/residency opportunities all over the country and in different types of libraries, free student admission to the ALA Annual Conference during the scholarship year, invitations to present at forums, conferences and institutes and a complementary one-year student membership to ALA, which includes a one-year subscription to American Libraries.

Vasquez, originally from Stockdale, Texas, holds a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and a master’s in theological studies with a concentration in biblical studies from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

“After I received my master's from Notre Dame, I found myself interested in more topics than the one I originally began the program with,” Vasquez says. “I knew that my desire to learn wasn't something that a Ph.D. program in theology or religion would satisfy, as I was interested in too many different things within religion and theology. After a friend recommended I look into librarianship, I realized that by being in a library, I could continue to learn about my various interests while helping others in their own specific interests within the field of theology and religion.”

Jason, originally from Cincinnati, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University. He spent a lot of his undergraduate career in the library looking up facts and statistics for his news and broadcast articles.

Don Jason
Marisol Vasquez

“From these moments I knew that I enjoyed the research, fact-finding and fact-checking offered by libraries more than writing news articles or broadcasting news stories,” he said. “I found the organization of libraries fascinating, from the classification systems that organize the books and resources to the employees who work in the different library offices and departments.”

The highly competitive scholarship is given to around 60 minority library school students each year. The goal of the scholarship program is “to improve service at the local level through the development of a representative workforce that reflects the communities served by all libraries,” according to the ALA website.  Students submitted an online application with résumés, short answer and essay questions. Several electronic reference letters needed to be sent on behalf of the student as well.

“I feel honored,” Vasquez says. “It means a lot to be part of the American Library Association. I also felt a little relief.  I worked full-time while getting my undergraduate degree and I remember how hard it was to balance work and school; having a little less to worry about financially can really improve a person's progress and success.”

Jason said this award was special to him because he has a desire to go into health sciences librarianship.

“I worked as a medical records clerk for a community clinic owned by the University of Cincinnati before going off to undergrad at Ohio University,” he says. “I am also participating in a summer fellowship with the National Library of Medicine (NLM). I am in their Specialized Information Systems department doing outreach to Native American populations, as well as analyzing data for a presentation and project aimed at determining how well health care professionals understand and use NLM databases and electronic resources, and how this affects patient care.”

After completing a master’s in library and information science Vasquez says she would like to pursue a career as a librarian in a religious or theological library here in the U.S. or abroad. Jason says he would like to stay at Kent State to pursue a Ph.D. in health communication in the College of Communication and Information.

“I would love to continue to enrich my knowledge and end up at an academic research library where I can work as a faculty member and a subject librarian for the health sciences,” he says. “I foresee a bright academic future filled with research, conferences, article and book publications, as well as countless opportunities to give back and instill my passion for education and learning in future generations of scholars. I am proud to say that this dream was formulated and has begun to unfold at Kent State University.”

Don A. Wicks, Ph.D., associate professor and interim director of the School of Library and Information Science , says, “We’re delighted to count two ALA Spectrum Scholars among our student body this year. It’s quite an honor – for the students and the school. Don already has shown a great deal of talent and promise in the short time he’s been enrolled here. Marisol is just getting started, and we look forward to her involvement as a graduate assistant with the Center for the Study of Information and Religion at the school, as that closely aligns with her interests.”