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In partnership with ALA, ProQuest is committed to ensuring that Master’s degrees in library and information science become more accessible and affordable for talented individuals and since 2001, has funded 142 Spectrum Scholars.

When it comes to awarding the Spectrum Scholarships, ALA and ProQuest seek broad participation of diverse librarians in order to provide the next generation of leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services.

Jessica Humphries is one of the Spectrum Scholarship winners for this year, and we had a chance to interview her recently.

Interview by Tara Baliat, PR Specialist

Q.    Congratulations on receiving the Spectrum Scholarship! Can you share how the support will help you in your pursuit of a graduate degree in library and information science?
A.    This scholarship will not only give me support in my educational expenses for my Master of Library and Information Science, but it will allow more time to focus on research, development of my career goals, and my ongoing community involvement.

I’m the first member of my family to attend university, and the opportunity to further my education is not only an accomplishment for me but my entire family. Being an older sister, I hope to be an educational mentor and that my sister will finish high school and go on to post-secondary education. As a mixed-race woman, I view my university experience as a way to open the door for future generations.

Q.    Tell us a little about what you will be concentrating on in the program.
A.    During the program, I will be focusing my work on knowledge systems and looking at the ways in which indigenous students can be supported by information professionals at all levels of education.  I hope that my work will carve out more space for indigenous voices in the profession.

Q.    What inspired you to pursue a career in library and information science?
A.    What really inspired me to consider a career in library and information science was my attendance at the 2nd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, held in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2012. I had been working as a student assistant for two years at the University of Victoria Libraries and had also been working with the students of colour collective. My two worlds collided at the conference with both indigenous and people of colour (IPOC) representing a community of library and information professionals thinking critically about library spaces and engaging in conversations. It was a beautiful experience that felt communal and welcoming. That’s when I knew that this was the field I wanted to pursue.

Q.    Describe your experience in the iSchool program so far.  
A.    So far the UW iSchool has been wonderful, challenging, and informative. I have learned so much in my first quarter. I have been pushed to think deeper, look at tangible strategies to information and engage in research methodology. I believe my view of the world is different than dominate society and at first, I was unsure of how my classmates and professors would engage in the way that I think about systems and community interconnection. However, my experience so far is that folks at the iSchool are open to learning, sharing and making a change. As much as I have been pushed, I have also been supported by my professors, advisors and my peers and that is important to me in fostering a community.

Q.    What do you intend to do after you complete the MLIS program?

A.    I intend to pursue a career and continue to engage in the community. I have aspirations in the impact I hope to make in the information profession but to be honest I am not exactly sure what that looks like yet. At this point I would love to continue working in a traditional library setting or special collections but, I am open to where the program may take me.

Q.    What do you hope to do in your career?

A.    I hope to facilitate workshops, create resources, and give tools to help people understand the impacts of colonization and how that is represented within aspects of the information profession. My hope is that sharing my knowledge and understanding of community will strengthen library collections, systems and spaces of information.

As a firm believer in knowledge sharing, I want to be a mentor. I have been supported by several mentors that have shaped my education and supported me through my work. It is important to me that I share and support the future generations and that I am able to give back to my community.

Q.    What do you find most exciting about the future of library and information work?
A.    I find it exciting that the future of library and information is in motion. Motion is what drives forward thinking, critical engagement, inspiration, interconnection and steers us away from static thinking and being. It is enchanting just thinking about being a small part of that motion.

Q.    What is the best piece of career advice you have received thus far?

A.    The piece of advice that sticks with me is that even if you do not get the job, internship, scholarship or whatever you’re after, you will always take away valuable knowledge by just putting your hat in the ring. Go for everything, because your true community will support you!

Q.    Finally, what can you tell us about yourself that we might never guess?
A.    In my spare time, I train for triathlons and I am a member of the Tristars triathlon club.

To read more about ProQuest scholarships and awards, click on one of the related blog stories below, or visit our Scholarships & Awards page.

08 Dec 2014

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