Brian DeFelices' Journey......
Winning the ALA Tom and Roberta Drewes scholarship has enhanced my career in ways that I would never have imagined. It has increased my exposure within the profession, helped me get a rewarding professional library position, and greatly increased my confidence.
I had worked for fourteen years as a full time paraprofessional at my previous library. Though I was very happy there, and am very thankful for its role in my professional development, it had become increasingly apparent that I was quickly outgrowing my paraprofessional role. This became especially true after winning the scholarship. I knew as a scholarship recipient that I had the skills and experience necessary for a degree holding job, and the pay and responsibilities that came with it. Around this time, I was made aware of an open position at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts for the Head of Information & Technology Services. I was inspired by winning the scholarship, and decided to take a chance and apply.
I was hired for the professional position. Unbeknownst to me when I applied, the Director of the Morrill Memorial Library, Charlotte Canelli, is the ALA Chapterhead of Massachusetts. She has given me valuable insights into ways that I can be more active in the ALA and the library profession as a whole. It is inspiring to work for someone who takes their role in the ALA seriously. Charlotte, along with our assistant director Lydia Sampson, are champions of professional development. They encourage all staff to be active in the ALA and the MLA (Massachusetts Library Association). They gave me the opportunity to participate in Massachusetts Library Legislative Day at the Massachusetts State House. We were able to meet with State Senator Michael Rush and advocated for our library system. Since taking the job, I have also become registered with the Department of State as a Passport Acceptance Agent, and I have become a Notary Public for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, two very unique services that our library offers to our community.
This year, I was lucky enough to attend ALA Annual in Washington D.C. for free, as an added bonus of being a scholarship winner. I got to meet some of the other scholarship winners at a VIP reception. ALA Annual was not only an amazing opportunity to get to experience a large conference, but helped me forge strong new professional connections. Months later, I am still in contact with many of my fellow scholarship winners, and are already planning ways we can meet up at the next ALA event!
Winning the Tom and Roberta Drewes scholarship turned out to be so much more than just being awarded tuition money (though that was a huge help as well!). It has catapulted my professional career far beyond what I could have ever imagined. I am beyond grateful to be an ALA Scholar, and I look forward to completing my MLIS degree program at San Jose State University.