Celebrating Student Re$earch

selective focus photography of multicolored confetti lot

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

I love graduation season. I love seeing pictures of folks in caps and gowns and reading posts about gratitude and accomplishment. (If you or a loved one just graduated, congratulations!) In the spirit of celebration and reflection, I started thinking about the library award committee I have been chairing the last two years and discovered that I never blogged about the first award cycle for the Abresch-Kranich Library Award, and the UC Merced Library just finished awarding the second set of scholarships this spring.

In 2018, we had two winners, Melissa Becerra and Nathan Parmeter. Each student received a $500 scholarship thanks to our donor, Arlene Kranich. You can read more about the award and our student winners in “New Scholarship Pays Homage to Persistence and Research.”

Last spring, my former Central Valley colleague Ray Pun also interviewed me about the award for the Credo Reference blog for the HIP (high-impact practices) in Action series. You can read the interview in “HIP in Action: Undergraduate Research & Awards.” It was great exposure for our library and UC Merced, and I hope the interview helped inspire other libraries.

In 2019, we also had two student winners, Marisela Padilla Alcalá and Sarah Lee. You can read more about our student winners in “Two Students Honored for Excellence in Use of Library Resources.”

After the second award cycle, I have a better idea of when and in what specific areas I need to ask for help. I also have ideas for changes to the workflow. I’m currently on vacation, but before I left, I started drafting my process with changes I might want to make regarding the timeline. The review and reception happens during the busiest time in the instruction season, and the process will go much more smoothly if we can open and close the application earlier. Currently, it opens Nov. 1 and closes Feb. 1, but opening it on Oct. 1 and closing it in mid-January will help me get the applications out to the five-member review committee more quickly. After a quick chat with the university librarian, he agreed with the earlier deadline, and we also determined that we should hold the reception before spring break, which is always in March. There are also some other changes I want to make, and I’m very thankful that two of my colleagues who have helped with reviewing student applications are interested in helping me streamline this process, which may also involve changing the award rubric. We’ll be doing this work in June.

Does your college or university library have a research award of some kind?

Abrescy-Kranich Library Award for Student Research Excellence

Over the summer, I was part of a team that helped develop a new undergraduate student research award, the Carter Joseph Abrescy and Larry Kranich Award for Student Research Excellence. The award recognizes an undergraduate student research paper or project that was completed within the last 12 months for a credit-bearing course that demonstrates effective use of library resources and services. We will either award one winner with $1,000 or two winners with $500 each. We researched several library research awards from different institutions to create the criteria. Students will need to submit an abstract, their paper or project, bibliography, and a reflective essay about their research process. We also developed a rubric for reviewers to use when scoring the applications.

We hit a bit of a snag when it came to the money side of the initial set-up, so we got behind schedule for the launch. We were able to work with Financial Aid and Scholarships to use their undergraduate scholarship system to house the award application materials. Working with Financial Aid and Scholarships has been a great experience! The Scholarship Coordinator is very patient, and she does prompt work.

In s surprising turn events, I’m now chairing the committee. My colleague has several big projects, so she and I switched reins about three or so weeks ago. I’m a bit nervous chairing something like this, but it’s the next logical move for me in terms of committee work and event planning. My supervisor, who was also on the planning group, has been very helpful with my questions and in offering feedback.

Originally, we were going to begin advertising the award in October, but since the financial side wasn’t ready, it’s going to be a very tight turnaround during this initial year. I’m pleased to report that we were able to launch the award the Friday before finals. Whew! Applications are due Monday, Feb. 12, and the winner(s) will be announced by March 15. The award ceremony will take some time in mid-April. Our communications coordinator put out a quick email message to the campus community about the award, and she’ll be working on a larger campaign when students return from winter break. We are very fortunate that the scholarship system alerts students who have previously applied for scholarships about new scholarship opportunities, so over 1200 students received an alert. I’ve also made some other strategic contacts about the award.  Now that the award is live, we can be begin advertising earlier in subsequent years.

Right now, I’m working on recruiting members for the selection committee. The selection committee is a team of five: three librarians (as chair, I’m not one of the reviewers) and two faculty members. The faculty members, we hope, will be representatives from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) and Undergraduate Council. The chair of UGC has been in contact with me and has some good ideas.

I’m looking forward to seeing our submissions and awarding a student (or two!) with a prize for their research. I’m also curious about working with Development for the awards ceremony.

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is upon us! I’ve written about organizations worthy of donation before, and I wanted to mention some of these again, as well as other organizations/groups in my work and home communities that are worthy of your consideration.

Libraries

Earlier this month, my fellow community members voted to renew the 1/8 cent sales tax for the Stanislaus County Library system’s 13 branches. It will go up for renewal again in 12 years. The volunteers behind the Save Stanislaus Libraries campaign worked tirelessly to get the word out, and Measure S was passed with over 80 percent approval.

Say Yes to S yard sign

I encourage you to donate to your local library foundations and friends group or consider donating to EveryLibrary to help other communities’ libraries that are on the ballot.

Now, I haven’t talked to anyone about this yet, but I really want to take part in ALA and REFORMA’s new Adopt a Library program for the Caribbean. If you have a willing organization, this may be a good project to take on!

Colleges & Universities

Going to college was a big deal for me. I recently attended a reception as an alumni of the Rogers Scholars award, which has been in place at my alma mater since 1991. The students’ stories really resonated with me.

Rogers Scholars Luncheon & Reunion invitation

A couple of years ago, the plant my dad worked at closed down, so he took an early retirement. Up until my dad retired, both of my parents were cannery workers. As in they operated machinery. My dad was a dryer operator, and my mom runs a machine that covers fruit cups with plastic film. My mom is an immigrant from Mexico who received little education; she went up to the equivalent of the eighth grade. Growing up, I knew I needed to go to college to have more options than my parents, but I was so stressed out about the cost, I opted to go to school locally. I was able to finish school with zero debt by living at home and receiving scholarships and grants.

I know what a difference scholarships can make in a student’s life, which is why I give to my undergraduate alma mater’s One Purpose campaign. When I worked at Merced College, I also made monthly contributions, and now I give to student scholarships at UC Merced. I also need to start making donations to San José State University, my graduate alma mater, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). A very generous HSF donor contributed $11k to my graduate education, and I had also received a scholarship from HSF as an undergraduate. I feel passionately about investing in young people. I hope you’ll consider donating to your alma mater or a local college or university.

Information Sources

I also contribute to my local NPR station, Capital Public Radio; Creative Commons; and the Internet Archive. However, I also want to contribute to Wikipedia. I just love these sources that much. Do you donate to any information sources?

Faith-Based Organizations

When I worked at the Stanislaus County Library, I discovered our town’s local World Relief office, which works to house refugees. A volunteer was showing an Ethiopian man around the library, and I thought it was awesome.  (Bonus: If you’re interested in libraries and refugees, check out Libraries Serve Refugees.)

Hometown Gems

This could get long, folks, but I also wanted to share that a few years ago, a friend and her husband had a wedding anniversary party at our town’s historic State Theater, and, as gifts, we made donations to the theater. A friend of mine recently got married, and, in lieu of gifts, he and his wife chose two organizations where friends and family could donate in their honor–Merced County Courthouse Museum and the Humane Society of Stanislaus County. If you’re in Modesto, consider giving to the McHenry Museum. What are some hometown gems you can’t live without?

Do you have #GivingTuesday plans? I know not everyone is in the place to give, but if you can, do!

Goodbye Pt. 1

Last Friday was my last campus faculty meeting for the school year and Los Banos Campus‘ Merit and Awards Ceremony. A couple of weeks before the official Merced College graduation ceremony, we honor Los Banos students who are graduating (this was my second and last year to read the names), scholarship recipients (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016), and Student of the Month and Year winners (I was on the committee in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016). We also honor a staff member as the Los Banos Campus Classified Staff Member of the Year, and one of my good friends, our Student Services Assistant, won the well-deserved honor.

What I didn’t expect was a little going-away recognition. Our faculty lead presented me and a colleague who is moving to the main campus with lovely matted photos of the Los Banos with nice messages written by our colleagues on the mat. We have wonderful staff and faculty members in Los Banos. I am going to miss this tight-knit team. I will definitely be hanging this in my new office.

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But it’s not goodbye quite yet. We still have graduation at the end of the month where I will don my Masters hood one last time with my colleagues as we celebrate our students’ successes. I’ve had months to process my move, but I think I’m going to need waterproof mascara.

Community Giving & World Relief

This isn’t a library post, but we librarians sure love our communities—the ones we work with and the ones we live in.

With Thanksgiving and the Christmas season around the corner, I have a lot on my mind, but not parties, presents, and pleasantries. I have been thinking about people in distress in my local community and about the Syrian refugee crisis and what we can do to help. (Even before the American backlash after the Paris attack, I followed the refugee story. A few years ago, I read The Story of My Life: An Afghan Girl on the Other Side of the Sky, and I became very interested in refugees around the world. )

My husband and I are very big proponent of giving our finances and time. For both college and graduate school, I received scholarships from donors, so I give to both my alma maters, California State University Stanislaus (I also work here part-time) and San José State University, and I also give to the community college I work for, Merced College.  I don’t talk about this much, but we also give to our church, Crossroads Church, so that we can help carry out the work to assist people in need.  We also give to the Modesto Gospel Mission, a local homeless shelter, and to Second Harvest Foodbank of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties. And if my bio says NPR listener, you bet I give to Capital Public Radio. We also do various one-time donations for issues that come up throughout the year.

Regarding the refugee situation, I wanted to highlight World Relief Modesto, another organization we donate to. World Relief helps resettle refugees that are placed in Modesto. My first encounter with World Relief was actually seeing them in action in the community when I was working part-time at my local library, Stanislaus County Library. A World Relief volunteer was showing an Ethiopian man the public library. I was so impacted that I, at one point, applied for a job with World Relief. I didn’t get the job, mostly because they knew how much I loved libraries. I really believe in the work they do. If you can give to a similar organization in your area, please do!

What causes, charities, or other groups do you donate your time or finances to? What issues are close to your heart? Besides libraries, of course.