Note from Michael: Valarie Kingsland delivered the SJSU SLIS Outstanding Student speech at our convocation. She graciously allowed me to publish her remarks here.
Thank you, Dr. Hirsh, for your generous introduction.
It’s a pleasure to be here with you and your loved ones. To share in the celebration of this special day, when we reflect upon our time as students, delight in our new titles as archivists, librarians, and information professionals…and contemplate our future.
It’s an honor to have been chosen to represent you and share our story.
Remember when you found out you were accepted to SLIS? From the excitement of acceptance, through the anxiety of registration and planning, through each semester, each course, paper, project, assignment, all of the group work and the discussion posts, through each technological hurdle…
We have assembled a versatile toolkit and amassed skills, including traditional library skills,
But, we also enjoyed innovative coursework that pushed the envelope of librarianship, information science, and research into new and exciting possibilities.
We cultivated a strong commitment to service, literacy, learning and intellectual freedom. …all of which equips us to meet the challenges of the future.
We exercised our independence and colossal self-discipline as we sacrificed sleep, finances, vacations and time with friends, family and co-workers, all in order to make time to complete our academic obligations.
Though we took pleasure in the challenge of learning, and digging deep into topics of interest…
We also sacrificed small pleasures that make life vibrant, as we book marked a wish list of reading material, television shows, and movies. We gave up gaming, yoga and other hobbies, and still battled the guilt that washed over us as our loved one’s also sacrificed on our behalf.
We survived lost internet connections, corrupted files, untimely updates, crashed computers and furious efforts to meet our deadlines.
We reveled in both small and large accomplishments. Many of our fellow grad students celebrated weddings and growing families. And many endured hardships through life events, such as moving, heartbreaking loss, military deployment, unemployment, and inconvenient and life-threatening health issues.
Successful completion of a rigorous online program required total immersion while working, interning and volunteering as we managed our time to complete the impossible…even as we squeezed in webinars and traveled to conferences.
Yet, we did not get here on our own. We relied on virtual support groups as well as family, friends, teachers, mentors, role models and coworkers…for advice, encouragement, support, understanding…and especially love, because love does not hold us back, it lets us shine.
We learned from our mistakes and conflicts. We learned to persevere. We are tenacious. We do not forget where we come from…even as we look forward to the future.
However, we are not done. True lifelong learners, as we librarians tend to be, continue to grow, and to contribute to our communities of practice, and the communities we live in.
I didn’t expect that I would learn so much from you, fellow grad students, or the many group projects and leadership opportunities.
Nor, did I expect to develop such a broad geographical network, with students and instructors from all over the world. Or, the many opportunities to connect to diverse and generous professional communities outside of SLIS.
Since the beginning, libraries have been about accessing ideas, information and knowledge, and they’ve weathered significant cultural and technological changes through time.
We are entering a profession with a deep historical and social tradition. Yet, we look forward to an exciting future, where traditional librarianship intersects with new ways of expressing, creating, accessing and sharing information and ideas.
As Dr. Stephens asked: “What will you create that will make the world more awesome?”
Libraries transform lives, and, we each have an opportunity to contribute to the history of libraries and how they evolve to meet information needs at a critical time when the information landscape is incredibly dynamic and prolific,
…and, in which our communities need us, as Sarah Houghton simply states, to “democratize information and expertise.”
Build Your Community
Communities are where we belong, care, connect, and share. We’ve established many connections throughout the SLIS program, but I’d like to encourage you to continue to build your community.
This includes a community of practice made up of those we work with.
I encourage you to carry the torch to light the way for students coming behind us, and to be their mentors.
I encourage you to be generous of spirit and expertise with other professionals and coworkers.
I encourage you to participate, serve and build genuine relationships within professional organizations.
Build the community. Build the community of those, whose unique needs we seek to fulfil, empower and serve. Be human…see the people… and connect with them.
Many have already done so, but if you haven’t…it’s never too late. I happened upon an African Proverb that embodies the value of community.
If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
I offer my gratitude to those who helped me get to this moment…and to the awards committee and amazing SLIS faculty for this opportunity to tell our story, and share our accomplishments.
Today, I extend my admiration to each of you in person, and virtually, as champions of librarianship. You have achieved your goal through hard work and sacrifice.
Prepare to celebrate, look forward to a bright future, and reap the rewards of your hard work. I wish each of you peace and prosperity.