Current IRDW Diversity Scholars

2014–2016 Diversity Scholars

Alonso Avila
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Alonso Avila is currently pursuing his MLIS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned his BA in English literature and Spanish from Coe College and is also a returned peace corps volunteer from Jordan. In addition to being an ARL Diversity Scholar, he is also an ALA Spectrum Scholar. During the upcoming academic school year, he will be working as a student librarian at the International and Area Studies Library at UIUC and looks forward to working in an environment that encompasses his interests in digital outreach and cultural diversity. His interests also include the interrelationships among international hip-hop and academic librarianship, special collections, and archives.

Benjamin D. Branch
North Carolina Central University

Dr. Branch is presently seeking tenure track, industry, or government research opportunities. After his successful CLIR fellowship at Purdue University Libraries, he is looking at other geospatial librarian opportunities or introductory leadership roles within an academic library or special library. He seeks to develop information technology and data science solutions towards library research support services involving data analysis, informatics or geospatial skills. He seeks to address solutions towards share-ability, open access or any data curation support issue.

Moreover, Dr. Branch is committed to advancing the research capability of the library or any data center where interdisciplinary or geospatial research could thrive and stimulate STEM outcomes or research. His research interests include moving forward data curation frameworks, GIScience, spatial thinking, geospatial research methods/techniques and such infrastructure development. He has demonstrated leadership in such technology and community building capacity of a campus environment that has had impact on research and student learning.

Richard Cho
University of California, Los Angeles

Richard Cho is a second-year graduate student at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), pursuing dual master's degrees in MLIS (with a focus on library studies) and an MA in East Asian studies (with a focus on comparative literature). In addition, he has recently been accepted by the school's graduate certificate program in digital humanities. Previously, Richard was an SAT instructor for six years, and has been a reference inquiry specialist in UCLA Powell Library for a year.  He is also a founder, editor, and writer for a literature and film review website at His interests include outreach, information access, data management, and digital humanities in librarianship.

Linh Gavin Do
Indiana University Bloomington

Gavin Do is pursuing a master of library science degree with a specialization in archives and records management from Indiana University Bloomington. He is a proud alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor of arts in American studies. His interests include archival preservation in addition to access and digital archives.

Joyce Gabiola
Simmons College

Joyce Gabiola is pursuing an MLIS at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She previously earned a BA in English/creative writing at the University of Houston. A proud Texan, Joyce is interested in unearthing the history and documenting the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, intersex Asian Pacific Americans (APA) in the South. She co-founded Queer & Asian Houston, has served on panels discussing the intersectionality of being queer and Asian, and was a contributing writer for OutSmart, Houston's LGBT publication. After a rewarding career as a corporate immigration paralegal, she is excited to explore the world of archives and records management, cultural and digital preservation, research librarianship, and special collections.

Alia Gant
University of Texas at Austin

Alia Gant is a first year graduate student pursuing her MS in information studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Alia completed her BA in international studies while minoring in communication at American University and recently finished a MA in international studies at the University of Iowa. While attending the University of Iowa, Alia was a graduate assistant to a Portuguese studies professor where she performed various library and research work. She also volunteered at Iowa City Public Library to continue building her experience in library and information studies. In addition to taking library and information science courses, Alia also worked in the main university library as a student assistant in government information and preservation. While her main focus of study is preservation and digitization, she is also interested in working in policy, government information, international studies, and Portuguese studies in library and information facilities for future career aspirations.

John Martin
University of North Texas

John Martin is currently pursuing an MSIS at the University of North Texas–Houston Program. He previously earned a BA in English and psychology of religion from Rice University and a PhD in American literature from Northwestern University. In his previous academic career, he served as a visiting instructor at Wake Forest University, an assistant professor at Louisiana Tech University, and an adjunct instructor at San Jacinto College. In addition to being an ARL IRDW Scholar, he is also a 2014 ALA Spectrum Scholar. His professional interests include academic librarianship, information literacy & instruction, digital humanities, academic publishing, and issues related to intellectual freedom and information access. He is particularly interested in the role of librarians as educators and scholars, and hopes to use his expertise in LIS to bring humanistic learning to a wider range of audiences.

Alda Migoni
University of California, Los Angeles

Alda Migoni is entering her second year of graduate school at University of California, Los Angeles where she was awarded a graduate opportunity fellowship her first year. She recently completed coursework for her first master's in Latin American Studies and will begin her MLIS in fall of 2014.

As an undergraduate at the University of Redlands, Alda spent a semester abroad in Peru. In Cusco, Alda developed her passion for indigenous organizing and preservation of oral histories. Her professional interests include cultural heritage preservation, digital humanities, and reference. Alda works as a reference assistant at UCLA's Powell library, where she provides research assistance as well as instruction on access to patrons. She is currently pursuing a concentration in archives.

Amanda Moreno
Long Island University/New York University

Amanda Moreno is a dual-degree MSLIS/MA student in library and information science and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Long Island University and New York University. Amanda graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami in 2012 with degrees in political science, psychology, and Spanish. She has worked as an archives assistant at the Cuban Heritage Collection of the University of Miami Libraries, and is currently a collection development assistant at NYU's Elmer Holmes Bobst Library. Her research and professional interests include Afro-Cuban culture, under-documented communities and minority archives. As both an ARL Diversity Scholar and an ALA Spectrum Scholar, she hopes to increase minority representation in the information field.

Rebecca Orozco
St. Catherine University

Rebecca Orozco is a MLIS candidate at St. Catherine University. She graduated with a BA in Biology from the University of Kansas where she was a BioScience Initiative Scholar through the Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity program. Rebecca earned a MS in biology from Saint Joseph's University where she was a Graduate GK-12 National Science Foundation Fellow. She has a background in plant ecophysiology and plant evolution. Rebecca works in the Department of Evaluation and Research in Learning at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Her academic and research interests include scientific data curation, database management, and science librarianship.

Monique Perez
University of Arizona

Monique Perez holds a bachelor of science in education from the University of Arizona (2014) where she majored in literacy, learning and leadership with a minor in history. She plans to obtain a master of arts in information and library science at the University of Arizona through Knowledge River—a program that focuses on educating information professionals who are committed to serving diverse populations, specifically Latino and Native American communities.

Ms. Perez is currently a 2014 i3 (iSchool Inclusion Institute) Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, where she will be completing research along with her peers through the summer of 2015. Monique aspires to assist underserved populations, such as the Latino community and increase early literacy and access to information and resources.

Yesenia Román-López
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Yesenia Román-López graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus with a BA in socio-cultural anthropology. As an undergraduate she was a research assistant and ethnographer for projects in the areas of community psychology and anthropology, experience that was influential in her interest in academic libraries. Currently she is a graduate assistant at the Social Sciences, Health and Education Library (SSHEL) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, where she assists with the maintenance, editing, and revising of some of SSHELs webpages. In addition she also provides reference and information services to students and community members. Yesenia is completing a MLIS with a specialization in data curation at GSLIS at Illinois. Her academic interests include digital preservation, anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean scholarship.  

Deborah Alvarez Tarver
Florida State University

Alvarez Tarver pursues her MLIS through Florida State University.  She is concurrently completing her doctoral dissertation in curriculum and instruction through the University of Florida in which she examines how white racial identity and its ensuant supremacy create institutions that serve its needs. Through her previous work experiences at the University of Florida's humanities and social sciences reference and access services departments coupled with her work as a researcher, she developed a marked interest in open access initiatives' potential international and national impact. Alvarez's research interests extend into the organizational health of academic libraries, non-traditional/ traditional configurations of space, and the research library's role in the public. Her active professional affiliations include the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking (REFORMA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA).

2013–2015 Diversity Scholars 

Image: Joanna ChenJoanna Chen
Photo by Faith West

Joanna Chen 
University of California, Los Angeles

Joanna Chen is pursuing her MLIS at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a proud alumna of the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned high honors in her BA in history. As the content design researcher for archive, exhibits, and historical curatorship the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Joanna was inspired to further explore a career in information science through her work in researching for exhibitions and processing archival collections brought in by Holocaust survivors and their families. In addition to being an ARL IRDW Scholar, she is also an ALA Spectrum Scholar. She is interested in archives, special collections librarianship, typography, paper conservation, and increasing diversity in the information field

Image: James ChengJames Cheng
Photo by Faith West

James Cheng
University of Texas at Austin

James Cheng is pursuing an MS in information studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He previously studied neuroscience at Colorado College, where he worked for the college’s Tutt Library and Office of the Dean. His interests include science and mental health librarianship, information architecture, and informatics.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-carlos-duartes600x600Andrea Devlin
Photo by Faith West

Andrea Devlin
Simmons College

Andrea Devlin is in her first year of the GSLIS program at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a BA in history and political science from Whitworth College, an MPP with a focus on environment and energy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and an MA and CAGS from Rhode Island College in school psychology. In addition to being an IRDW Diversity Scholar, Andrea is also an ALA Spectrum Scholar. Her interests include digital recordkeeping and data management (particularly in the area of Native American tribal records), archives and records preservation, systems analysis, and library outreach.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-jennifer-garretts600x600Rhonda Evans
Photo by Faith West

Rhonda Evans
Pratt Institute

Rhonda Evans is currently earning her MLIS at Pratt Institute. Rhonda graduated with honors from New York University with a degree in media, culture, and communication. She earned an MFA from Columbia University, and a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was an editor of the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology. She was also the Nathan R. Sobel Fellow at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Law Library. Her interests include open access to legal research materials and legal research in foreign and international affairs.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-jennifer-gibsons600x600Pia Hunter
Photo by Faith West

Pia Hunter
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Pia Hunter is pursuing a MSLIS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently the head of reserve, media, and microforms at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Richard J. Daley Library, where she successfully led the development, implementation, and improvement of UIC Library reserve and media services. An advocate of fair use and intellectual freedom, she provides copyright information for UIC faculty and students. Pia’s research interests are fair use for instruction and open access in academic libraries.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-jennifer-gibsons600x600Rhonda Jones
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Rhonda Jones
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rhonda Jones is an assistant professor and director of public history at North Carolina Central University. Specializing in 20th-century United States history, the civil rights movement, and African American philanthropy, she is currently pursing an MLS, concentrating on archives and records management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned an MA in public history and a PhD in US history from Howard University.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-jennifer-gibsons600x600Melissa Kahili
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Melissa Kahili
University of Washington

Melissa Kahili is a second-year graduate student at the University of Washington Information School and a supervisor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Sinclair Library for an academic support program known as the Student Success Center. At the Student Success Center, Melissa works closely with students, faculty, and librarians towards the common goal of helping students succeed academically. Her research interests are in digital and information literacy as well as finding new and innovative ways to market and integrate academic library resources and services within the university community.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-don-jasons600x600Rebecca Nieto
Photo by Faith West

Rebecca Nieto
McGill University

Rebecca Nieto is pursuing her MLIS with an archival studies stream at McGill University in Montreal. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she earned her BA with honors in English from Oberlin College, where she was an Oberlin College Research Fellow and library assistant at Mudd and Clarence Ward Art Libraries, and has since worked as a library assistant at Albuquerque Academy. She is interested in accessibility in different race-, socioeconomic-, and ability-based communities, and is eager to learn about archival processes for physical information like the manuscript or art object, and digitization technologies that curate and house these unique collections.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-nabil-kashyaps600x600Paula Pascual
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Paula Pascual
University of Michigan

Paula Pascual is a first-year graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Information. She received her undergraduate degree from Scripps College in Claremont, California, with a dual major in English and humanities. Both before and after college, she was an assistant in academic libraries at Scripps, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of California, Irvine. She has worked primarily in acquisitions, and over the last few years has focused on electronic resources. Paula would like to specialize in evaluating and improving student use of electronic and digital resources in academic libraries, including instructional technology and the use of metadata to facilitate discovery.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-arthur-lius600x600Conrad Pegues
Photo by Faith West

Conrad Pegues
Kent State University

Conrad Pegues is a graduate from the University of Memphis with both a MA and BA in English. He is currently working at Miami University’s King Library in the circulation department. He has worked at the University of Memphis Music Library and the Memphis Public Library. He is a contributing author to several anthologies encompassing cultural criticism, sexuality, gender, and race. He is currently enrolled at Kent State University where he is pursuing the MLIS degree.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-yumi-ohiras600x600Sarah Pham
Photo by Faith West

Sarah Pham
University of California, Los Angeles

Sarah Pham holds a BA in psychology, with a double minor in film, television, and digital media and LGBT studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Sarah is pursuing an MLIS at UCLA, where she was awarded the James Sherman Williams Fellowship. Currently, Sarah works for the UCLA Film & Television Archive as a public outreach assistant. She will also be working as a college academic mentor this upcoming school year, where she continues to enjoy helping and counseling students. Sarah is highly interested in art librarianship, moving image preservation, and outreach.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-megan-threatss600x600Saira Raza
Photo by Faith West

Saira Raza 
University of North Texas

Saira Raza is pursuing her MSLS at University of North Texas. She holds a BA in international studies from Wells College and an MPS in Africana studies from Cornell University. In addition to being an ARL Diversity Scholar, she is also an ALA Spectrum Scholar (2012) and received the AALL George A. Strait Minority Scholarship (2013) and John R. Johnson Scholarship (2013). Currently, she is a library research specialist at King & Spalding LLP. She also is working with artist Amos Kennedy Jr. to create a library as part of his recently established printmaking studio in Detroit.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-sarah-e--velasquezs600x600Joel Sanders
Photo by Faith West

Joel Sanders
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joel Sanders is currently the head of the Circulation and Stacks Department at the Library of the Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He also works for DePaul University as a part-time Circulation supervisor. He earned a BA in architecture from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is now pursuing an MLIS at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science in Urbana-Champaign. Joel has a keen interest in library buildings and design and would like to combine his knowledge of architecture and the operational side of libraries to develop expertise in project management and collection development. In addition to communication of research information in architecture, Joel’s interests include issues related to outreach programs and resources that enhance knowledge and encourage understanding of diversity in libraries.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-kimberly-yangs600x600Nelson Santana
Photo by Faith West

Nelson Santana
Drexel University

Nelson Santana is a first-year student in Drexel University’s iSchool College of Information Science and Technology, pursing an MSLIS with a concentration in archival studies. Born in the Dominican Republic, Nelson is a first-generation college student. He holds a BA in English literature from Baruch College (CUNY) and most recently completed an MA in the study of the Americas from the Center for Worker Education, the City College of New York’s (CCNY) Division of Interdisciplinary Studies. Nelson works as assistant archivist/assistant librarian at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute.

2011-13-diversity-scholar-kimberly-yangs600x600Madeline Sheldon
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Madeline Sheldon
University of Michigan

Madeline Sheldon, originally from Dallas, Texas, graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in English literature in 2010. In 2013, the American Library Association awarded her with the ALA Spectrum Scholarship, and the Library of Congress selected Madeline to participate in a prestigious internship opportunity, under the Office of Strategic Initiatives, where she researched digital preservation policy planning within cultural heritage organizations. She is currently pursing a master’s degree at the University of Michigan School of Information, and also holds officer positions with the student ALA and SLA chapters at her university. Her professional interests include digital preservation, digitization, and multi-cultural outreach.



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