MLIS students awarded ALA Spectrum Scholarships

ALA Spectrum Scholars
Jasmine Gutierrez (left), Cristal Fiel (center) and Charlene Quach.

The American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Diversity announced the winners of the 2017-18 Spectrum Scholarships, with three University of Washington Information School Master of Library and Information Science students among the 61 winners. 

iSchool winners include: Cristal Fiel, a third-year online student; Jasmine Gutierrez, a second-year online student; and Charlene Hien Quach, a first-year student.

Fiel currently works as a grant maker, funding historically underrepresented communities for the San Francisco Arts Commission, and hopes to work in a public library or museum after graduation. She sees her education as a valuable tool to uplift and empower the voices of communities of color in information preservation, access, and literacy.

Gutierrez plans to work with teens or young adults in a public library after graduation, establishing a mentoring program for first-generation students with information about the college and scholarship application process. She currently works for the Pico Branch (Santa Monica Public Library system) in her home community. There, she works with the Leamos! program, an adult literacy course that teaches Spanish speakers to read and write in Spanish.

Quach, who works at the White Center branch of the King County Library System, said she wants to learn how she can better serve diverse, low-income communities. As a librarian, she said, she will be able to help make connections among people who look different from themselves.

ALA has awarded more than 1,000 Spectrum Scholarships since 1997, according to its press release. In the 2017 application cycle, the Spectrum Scholarship Program received three times as many applications as there were available scholarships. The awards committee of nine jurors selected this year’s Spectrum Scholars based on their commitment to diversity, commitment to entering the library profession, demonstrated community outreach, academic ability and achievements, and leadership potential.

The Spectrum Scholarship Program actively recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA. The aim is to increase the number of racially and ethnically diverse professionals in the field of library and information science to best position libraries at the core of today’s culturally diverse communities.