2014 Commencement Awards

June 02, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Commencement Awards were interviewed about their Simmons experience and post-graduation plans.

Kenneth R. Shaffer Outstanding Student Award: Eva Rios-Alvarado

Thumbnail image for EvaRiosAlvarado-photo-1 (2).jpg

Favorite classes: Several courses challenged me to produce great work. LIS 438 Introduction to Archival Methods and Services allowed me to meet other students and peers in the archives track. My section was taught by Professor Joel Blanco-Rivera, who incorporated global archival perspectives. LIS 532G Scientific Research Data Management enabled me to apply new ideas and think about new models of librarianship. Last, my oral history independent study involved Daphne Harrington, Beatley Library Director. Beyond gracious, Daphne has a dynamism and commitment to the profession that are visible in her ongoing contributions to Simmons College. I was involved in the oral history project from the initial planning to the preservation stage.

GSLIS involvement: I was Treasurer to the Student Chapter International Relations Round Table for two terms. I also worked at the Boston Architectural College Library for a year and interned at the Department of Conservation and Recreation Plans Library. I also attended conferences as a 2012-2013 Spectrum Scholar and a 2012-2014 Association of Research Libraries/Initiative to Recruit a Diverse Workforce Scholar.

What's next? I am Librarian-in-Residence at Santa Barbara City College, where I am pursuing a career in community college librarianship. I am also interning at the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, which is part of the University of California Santa Barbara's Special Collections. I hope to pursue an independent scholarship and also work on obtaining a permanent position in the Los Angeles area. I also am partnering with local colleagues to create a professional learning community for early career librarians and archivists of color. Please follow my blog to keep track of my various initiatives.

Outstanding Information Science Student Award: Julia Hayton

Thumbnail image for JuliaHaytonphotoMaygraduate.jpgFavorite classes: Candy Schwartz's LIS 462 Digital Libraries class provided a hands-on opportunity to organize and present digital materials in an interesting, accessible, and user-friendly way. I gained useful digital library technology skills and was able to showcase a final product ̶ a publicly-accessible digital library scrapbook of an alum including materials from the Simmons Library Archives ̶ as part of my portfolio. I recommend that class for anyone interested in working with digital libraries or archives.

GSLIS involvement: I was a Technology Reference Assistant (TRA) and became Lead TRA in Fall 2013 before leaving at the end of January to work full time off campus. I was also the Library Technology Student Assistant to Amy Deschenes, the Systems and Web Applications Librarian at Beatley Library. I was elected LISSA webmaster in Fall 2012, and became an ASIS&T co-chair after the spring of 2013. I was involved in the GSLIS Alternative Spring Break in 2013.

What's next? As of February 2014, I have been the Digital Projects Developer for Historic New England. I am part of the information technology office led by Systems Librarian/Archivist David Dwiggins '08LS, who is also a GSLIS Adjunct Professor. We are currently re-designing our digital collections access portal.

GSLIS Western Campus Leadership Award: Rachel Statham

Thumbnail image for RachelStathamphotoMaygradawardwinner.jpgFavorite classes: LIS469 XML with Kelcy Shepherd was my favorite because it taught students XML coding skills and their application. Kelcy is an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher. I also enjoyed LIS 467 Web Development & Information Architecture taught by Linda Braun and LIS 462 Digital Libraries taught by Aaron Rubenstein.

Defining GSLIS moment: I worked at Simmons GSLIS West as the Office Assistant under Terry Plum and Johanna Radding. In this position, I was the liaison between administrative staff and students. My defining experience at GSLIS West was assuming administrative responsibilities for my boss Johanna Radding when she went on maternity leave. Although I was a student worker, I was forced to learn how to organize, prioritize, and complete tasks for which I had never been responsible in the past. I learned what it takes to run an administrative office for a higher education program. I had to support and lead my fellow students as an event organizer and support staff, while acting as the right hand to the program's Assistant Dean for Academic Initiatives, Terry Plum.

GSLIS involvement: As GSLIS West Office Assistant, I organized the GSLIS West Art Show, the GSLIS West Alumni Reunion, and the GSLIS West Boat Cruise. I also worked closely with the Library and Information Science Student Association to help them organize student events.

I was also involved in research, conducted focus groups, and wrote a paper about "library as place" with Adjunct Professor Anne C. Moore and classmates Angela Rovatti-Leonard and Mark Parsons. Collaborating on the paper helped me understand the research and publication process. It was a valuable team-building experience.

What's next? I currently work at Springfield Technical Community College Library and Forbes Library as a reference librarian. I love working the reference desk, and I look forward to working on digital library projects. I am considering pursing a second bachelor's degree in project management.

Daniel Fleming Award for the Outstanding School Library Teacher Student: Sara Jauniskis

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SaraJanuskiusphoto.jpg

Favorite classes: As a GSLIS student for the past five years, four classes stand out in my mind: Laura Saunder's LIS 407 Reference/Information Services, Candy Schwartz's LIS 416 Introduction to Cataloging and Classification, Fran Zilonis' LIS 406 Management of School Library Programs, and Chris Swerling's LIS 431 Instructional Strategies for the School Library Teacher. These courses gave me the foundation for my library career.

Defining GSLIS moment: In addition to teaching skills, Adjunct Professor Chris Swerling's class encouraged community building and taught the importance of educating students on multiple levels. Our assignments involved a significant amount of collaboration; as a result, students in the class became close friends. Since school librarians are often solo practitioners in their school or district, I appreciate the professor's ulterior motives to build bonds among classmates so we have colleagues we can contact for support in the future.

GSLIS involvement: I was co-chair of the Massachusetts School Library Association/Special Interest Group at Simmons. Since I have a full family life, Google Hangouts made it possible for me to become a vocal advocate for students and the profession.

What's next? I started working in December 2013 as an elementary school library teacher at Wellesley's Upham Elementary School. I look forward to working with Fran Zilonis, who is joining the Wellesley Public Schools as the Director of the K-12 Libraries.

Estelle Jussim Award: Alyssa Ramirez

Thumbnail image for AlyssaRamirezphoto.jpgFavorite classes: My favorite classes were LIS 471 Photographic Archives and Visual Information and LIS 531V Concepts in Cultural Heritage Informatics.

Defining GSLIS moment: A turning point for me in the program was taking the LIS 471 Photographic Archives and Visual Information class. As I learned about 19th-century photographic processes and how to care for them, something drew me in unlike any of my other classes. Before this class, I never thought it was possible to specialize in photography. I also enjoyed Cultural Heritage Informatics because it addressed the differences among libraries, archives, and museums. Coming into the program, I thought libraries only collected books and that museums required a different degree. Taking this class, I realized I had more opportunities that I had originally thought.

What's next? I am an archives assistant at Historic New England, where I am processing the Philips Family Papers. After that, I will be ready to move out of New England and look for jobs where I can work mostly with photographs.

Estelle Jussim Award: Anna Martin

Thumbnail image for AnnaMartinPhoto.jpgFavorite classes: LIS 446 Art Documentation for Museums, Archives & Libraries allowed me to explore my interest in museum accessibility for visually impaired patrons. LIS 440 Rare Books and Special Collections Librarianship offered an overview of managing a special collections department, in addition to rich anecdotes of thievery and mayhem in the rare book world. LIS 403 Evaluation of Information Services demonstrated the process of breaking a research project down into manageable pieces over time, and gave me a good understanding of why organizations collect information using online surveys. LIS 439 Preservation Management in Libraries and Archives had many practical applications.

GSLIS involvement: I am the archivist for SLA@Simmons, which is the GSLIS chapter of the Special Libraries Association. I have also worked at the Student Services Center (SSC) since last August; it has been an interesting to see how GSLIS works behind the scenes. I have had opportunities to bring my student perspective to Simmons documents and publications. I also initiated a project to write gender-specific language out of the Student Policy Manual, which is an evolving document.

What's next? In addition to working at the SSC, I work part time at the Harvard Law Library. This Spring I am going to Florence, Italy, to take courses in art librarianship and paper conservation for a month in a program run by the Pratt Institute. When I return, I will continue at Harvard and the SSC. I plan to look for a position in special collections, preservation, or visual resources.

Children's Literature Department Chair's Recognition: Kathleen Kellet

Thumbnail image for Kathleen Kellet_ChildrensLiterature.jpgFavorite class: Although CHL 413 Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Young Adults was an extremely challenging class, I was lucky to have an amazing group of classmates who prompted interesting discussions. I became a better critic and academic writer throughout the semester.

Defining Simmons experience: My most defining experiences at Simmons involved completing three independent study projects, including two writing mentorships and a thesis. I was paired with excellent mentors Reka Simonsen and Emily Mitchell, and thesis advisor Mary Harris Russell. In the first mentorship, I was focused on a project I was passionate about and turn it into a draft of a book. In the second mentorship, I completed a first draft of a novel in one semester, which is the fastest I have ever managed to write a first draft. Finally, I was able to explore my own theories of monstrosity in my thesis, which is what I had hoped to do at Simmons when I first applied. I accomplished everything I set out to do here.

What's next? My life plans are up in the air right now, but that is by design. I have a friend whose family has a middle-of-nowhere cabin that they are willing to rent to me for a while. I plan to become a short-term writer-hermit until I decide what comes next. I am submitting query letters for the manuscript I worked on during my first mentorship, and I have other projects I am excited to work on again.

Computer Science and Informatics' Honorable Mention: Sarah Elmore, Priyal Goyal and Winnie Yan

Sarah Elmore Sarah Elmorephoto.jpg

Favorite classes: I enjoyed my programming classes. It is a great feeling of accomplishment when your code finally complies after you have been debugging it for what feels like forever. I may want to pursue this field in the future.

Defining Simmons experience: Building relationships with other Simmons students, who have varied life experiences and goals, was defining for me.

Simmons involvement: I had an on-campus technology job during my junior and senior years.

What's next? I am working in technology over the summer, but I will start a year-long internship in the fall. After that, who knows? I am still trying to figure out what I want to do.

Priyal GoyalPriyalGoyaphoto.jpg

Favorite classes: My favorite class was CS 330/530 Structure and Organization of Programming Languages with Professor Nanette Veilleux; we were able to learn a programming language of our choice and write a program under the professor's guidance. I loved my public speaking course because it increased my confidence. I also loved GSM 470 Negotiation and Conflict Management, which was a graduate class in the MBA program. I attended classes with graduate students and learn from their amazing experiences. ​

Defining Simmons experience: Working as a business analyst intern for TJX Companies last summer, I was able to accomplish my goal of working in a corporate environment before graduation.​

Simmons involvement: Since I was a freshman, I have been involved in Simmons campus life. As a first year student, I participated in the Emerging Leaders Program. During my sophomore year, I was an orientation leader and a Simmons 101 facilitator. I have been on the Student Government Association (SGA) for three years; I started as the Secretary and I am now the Vice-President of SGA. I have been a Resident Advisor for two years and I am currently a head Resident Advisor.

What's next? ​ I will be working for Wellington Management in Boston as a QA Analyst. I plan to go to graduate school in Europe. ​

Winnie YanWinnieYanphoto.png

Favorite classes: In the communications department my favorite classes were COM 333 Web II: Motion Graphics and COM 222 Animation. In these classes I could create anything I wanted and add it to my portfolio. In the computer science department I enjoyed CS 321L Web Technologies Lab and my independent study about mobile development.

Defining Simmons experience: My most defining experience at Simmons was working with Professor Bob White and Professor Judith Richland on creating my motion graphics and animation, as well as working with Professor Margaret Menzin on creating a mobile application in jQuery Mobile.

Simmons involvement: I was a part of the Computer Science/Math Liaison.

What's next? I am currently looking for a job and I hope to start my own business.