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Graduate and Alumni Messages Offer Essence of iSchool Education

By: Diane Stirling
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  Alyssa Henry - iSchool Convocation 2012
  Alyssa Henry, recepient of the graduate leadership award, addresses the audience during the iSchool's convocation ceremony.
College commencements leave lasting impressions as milestone life events and prompt seminal messages and remembrances. For several School of Information Studies (iSchool) speakers and graduates at the school's convocation ceremony, many comments reflected the essence of an iSchool education and the years spent in classes, as well as the bright futures of possibilities ahead.

Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy told the graduates that right now is an opportune time to be graduating with a degree in information, noting how rapidly “the rest of the world is recognizing the significance of the information field.” Because “the importance of information is not going to diminish,” that situation bodes well for the graduates, she said, providing “ongoing opportunities now, as you graduate, and ongoing opportunities as you move forward in your lives. She urged them to contribute to those other than themselves, saying they would then be “fulfilling the vision of the iSchool–to expand human capabilities because of information.”

Christine Larsen, Syracuse University Trustee, iSchool alumnae and Board of Advisors member, and an Executive Vice President at JP Morgan Chase, was present for the ceremony and joined the faculty onstage to honor and recognize the graduates.

A number of graduates reflected on the occasion of their graduation and what their iSchool education has meant to them.

Bachelor’s degree graduate James Meade was one example.His schooling in Information Management and Technology was the culmination of a dream postponed for many years.  Though he quit school in Dublin, Ireland, at age 15, he has excelled at SU as a non-traditional student. That path began in 2006 when he was working on a video for University College and talked to the staff about resuming his education. He enrolled at UC and earned an associate’s degree. He went on to study at the iSchool, and at graduation, James was recognized with the Amy Everett Award for Information Ethics. The memorial award recognizes a student who writes an outstanding paper on ethical issues in information management.

While graduation represents “a release, and it’s exciting and a bit bewildering,” James is looking ahead to many plans. “I’m trying to chase my dream job; to work as an audio engineer at Belfer Audio Archive on the Syracuse University Campus,” he confided. In fact, James is completing a six-month internship at that audio facility as the final leg of his Information Management and Technology degree.

Another non-traditional student, Sylvie Merlier-Rowen, who lives in Maryland, spent the last three years pursuing her education via distance learning at the iSchool. She graduated in May with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Digital Libraries. Originally from France, Sylvie was able to complete her degree due to the strength of the iSchool’s distance learning courses and the commitment of the professors, she relayed. “I thought the courses were excellent, and the teachers spent a lot of time being in touch with us and giving us feedback. They were really there for us, even though we’re not here on campus,” Sylvie said.

James Achuil, who dual-majored in the Information Management and Technology program along with his policy studies major, was happy to be graduating as well. “The iSchool is a great place to pursue a career,” he said. After taking summer classes at the iSchool, James added IM & T as a second major. “It’s been wonderful,” he said of his iSchool experience. “I’m so thankful for the all the professors I’ve had who have shared their knowledge with me.”

Chelsea Neary, who received a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Sciences, was one of four graduate students selected to receive a Master’s Degree prize at graduation.

She reflected on her experiences. “The two years I spent at Syracuse University were amazing. I learned a lot and met some really dynamic and incredible people.  I’m not only going to miss learning from our professors, but also learning from and collaborating with my fellow students in the LIS program and the iSchool as a whole.  My future colleagues are a great crowd and I look forward to working with them.” She received her Master’s Degree prizes along with Gwyneth Frey, of the Information Management program; Kristen Link, of Library and Information Science, School Media Specialization; and Kshitij Mahant, aTelecommunications and Network Management graduate.

Alyssa Henry, who was selected by the faculty for the graduate leadership award, spoke of the characteristics that made her iSchool education so rewarding.  She told the convocation audience that out of all of her experiences at the School, “Three things really stand out.  They are communication, innovation and collaboration,” she said. “The iSchool instills in us that we can and should create our own opportunities. What I wanted to do didn’t exist, so I helped to create it. The desire for change and a passion for disruption are what will always change the world. So, carry the spirit of exploration and entrepreneurship of the iSchool with you, whether you’re working for yourself or someone else. Make your own game.”


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