This month, I have prioritized getting scholarship applications out for next year. I had deadlines of March 1 for the American Library Association and April 1 for the Association of American Law Libraries. I decided to do it all at once because I know that I am only going to get busier from here.
Below, I am posting an abridged version of the essay that I submitted to AALL. That essay was allowed to be longer because they also wanted to know about my financial status. The version that I submitted to the ALA was limited to less than 300 words. Editing it down was great practice for an assignment that I had this week in my reference course. We had to create an "annotation" for a print reference source; I chose "The Dictionary of Imaginary Places" and had a lot of fun writing it (stay tuned next week to read that piece)!
Anyway, here is my personal statement:
When I was an undergraduate, the most influential classroom of my education was a small, sunny office near the reference section of the library. I had a work study in Interlibrary Loans, and in that transitional year, I found an invaluable mentor in my supervisor. She embodied the professional I wanted to be: well-read, inquisitive, and kind. I learned not only about the industry, but also the intention behind her librarianship. As a result of that training, I spent three summers exploring my options in other libraries as a technical services assistant and paraprofessional.
I finished my undergraduate program with a dual-major B.A. and, perhaps more importantly, four years of practical experience in a career I felt passionate about. I had also been confronted with an existential challenge; while I was studying abroad in Turkey, my father lost his battle with cancer. I needed time away from school, so after graduation I explored the wider scope of information services at a prominent law firm.
Seeing the internal network of a law firm helped me focus my aspirations toward a career in legal librarianship. After a year away, I returned to graduate school, continuing to work full time and remaining engaged in the information field. I have demonstrated my leadership and my curiosity by joining the Innovation Board within my firm, and I am currently leading a firm-wide initiative to host quarterly educational lectures for the entire information services group. I have also successfully petitioned management to incorporate these events into the curriculum for our annually required professional development time.
Ever since I left for college, I have been financially self-reliant; the longest I have gone without working was during my semester in Istanbul. I have learned not only to make wise choices, but also to trust myself to take risks. Four days after graduating, I moved into a summer sublease in Boston, setting a goal for myself to find a job by the end of July. I had been interviewing since March, driving between Vermont and Boston, and those miles paid off when I started a full time job less than a month after my graduation.
Applying to Simmons was, like moving to the city, a calculated risk. I considered many factors: my remaining undergraduate loans, my rising rent and modest pay. Today, I am proud to be putting myself through school, and I will continue to work hard because I recognize the value of investing in myself. My attending Simmons would not be possible without receiving external financial aid, and I will make every effort to be deserving of it.
I look forward to a point when I am able to help sustain and mentor aspiring librarians. I envision myself as a law librarian where I will have opportunities to work alongside intelligent, influential colleagues and to lead innovation in the field. Legal librarianship appeals to me because of the strategic nature of research and the tangible implications of my service. I see a career in librarianship as not only fulfilling, but also a field in which I can bring intention and meaning to my practice.