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Student Award Recipients Provide Parting Words and Wisdom

By: Diane Stirling
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Two students who were recognized with honors and awards addressed the audience of students, faculty, staff, and parents at Convocation 2014. Their remarks provided a look-back at the years they had spent at the iSchool, as well as the benefits that their time here would afford them as they undertake careers.

 
  Elise Lambson

Recognized with the School’s Graduate Leadership Award was Elise Lambson, who received her master’s degree in library and information science. The award is presented to recognize a student for scholarship, service, and commitment to the school and the profession.

Described as a student who was insightful and respectful of other students’ ideas and perspectives, an effective communicator, someone who contributed a great deal to discussions as a leader among her peers, and whose work was “nothing but top-notch, well-crafted, and full of new ideas,” Elise provided three quotations that she said summed up her recommendations for her fellow graduates.

The first quote, coming from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, she said, is, “Never give up, never surrender.” That is sage advice even if life gets tough and elements are beyond your control, she suggested.  Elise urged fellow students to remember “where you've come from, where you want and hope to go, but above all, remember who you are.” She told them, “Now, we'll have the opportunity to become leaders in our field.  We've received a degree at one of the best universities in the country.  Surround yourself with strong people, with good people, with passionate people.  Teach them, learn from them.  Grow with them and build with them.  Find ways to do good.”

Her second quotation, drawn from theologian and writer F.W. Faber, recounted the concept  that in life, “the opportunity for great deeds may not come, but the opportunity for good deeds is renewed day by day.” Elise advised her fellow students that “the thing to long for is the goodness, not the glory.” 

For her third quotation, the Star Trek fan couldn’t resist, and ended her comments with this offering, “My sincere wish for all of you is, ‘Live Long And Prosper’.”

Katie Bennett Award

Named the recipient of the inaugural Katie Bennett Undergraduate Leadership Award was Courtney Perdiue.

 
  Courtney Perdiue

The memorial honors are named for Katie Bennett, who attended the School for six years and who died at age 25 from anorexia. The award recognizes the qualities Katie imparted, as her mentor and professor Jeff Rubin explained: “She was everyone's friend, she was one of those people who lit up a room when she walked in. Katie embodied leadership, charisma, intelligence, vision, and values. Everyone knew she was a leader.” Courtney epitomized those qualities during her years at the iSchool, Rubin said, based on her hectic schedule of academic and school activities, the way she helped and reached out to others, and her scholarship success.  

Courtney, who will be joining the National Football League for a job after graduation, told the gathering how she had heard Katie Bennett speak and drew inspiration directly from that talk for her own iSchool career. Courtney had been in the audience when Katie Bennett gave her graduation speech years ago, she said, and it became a seminal moment in her educational path. After hearing Katie, Courtney said, “I wanted to mimic a college career just like hers, one that having a degree of information management technology was not just cool, but right.”

Courtney described Katie as “a pioneer in the iSchool, a true leader that we were all told as freshmen to emulate,” and “ a person who left an impact on me that she will unfortunately never know, but one I will attempt to share with others as I go on to my next steps.”

Describing her belief that the current class of information studies graduates are “challenging the status quo,” Courtney said these “kids” are “twenty-somethings going out and doing it” Describing the world as “our place to innovate,” she noted that current graduates “have an undeniable potential to be passionate about our ideas.” She thanked the iSchool faculty and staff for “propelling us this far” and Dean Liddy for “proving we're not limited to one iteration of ourselves.” She urged her fellow graduates to “keep thinking, and I hope you all find happiness.”  

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