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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Who benefits from scholarships?

Why should you care about donating money to scholarship funds and bashes? Who gets those scholarships and what do they give back? Well…. I did and I’m trying to give back!

I received a David H. Clift Scholarship from ALA 20 years ago for $3000. It paid my entire tuition for the University of Iowa M.A. L.I.S. program. I worked as a research/teaching assistant to cover all the other expenses like books and making photocopies. I was able to go to graduate school two weeks after earning my B.A. because someone endowed the David H. Clift Scholarship.

If I had not won the scholarship, I would not have become a librarian immediately after earning my B.A.  I came from a low-income family (5 people with less than $15,000 total income) and my parents couldn’t contribute. I often joke that they handed me a roll of quarters when I first went to college and told me to call them when I ran out of laundry money so they could take me home for the weekend to do my laundry. (Mom, don’t blame me when I continue to bring my laundry home.)

I have tried to give back to the profession so that everyone who donates knows how much I appreciated the support then and still now. I have served on state committees for several states, been state association president, chaired Affiliate Assembly, been director-elect for Region 4 AASL, served on various legislative and award committees, and am serving as an ALA councilor. I think more importantly if you need me, I try to help you. I feel like I owe every individual of the 65,000 members of ALA.

I take very seriously the responsibility to help the next person along. I bet you do, too, because you are involved and read professional journals & blogs. Every year I attend the Scholarship Bash at ALA Annual knowing that I’ll have fun and that someone will benefit. But recently I learned that I need to do much more. Some of the scholarships from ALA are endowed so they aren’t receiving  general support. Look, the Clift scholarship hasn’t grown any in 20 years. Try going to library school for 39 hours on $3000 nowadays!!! I wish that I could contribute "something." This fund needs to be doubled.

ALA has a way called giveALA  You can log on and donate directly to scholarships (and other stuff) there. Of course you can donate specifically or generally. You can do it online and know that you are helping someone like me get a start as a librarian.

(Please nobody tell the ALA people that I just ripped the list of scholarships that ALA has from their webpage. Oops! with the council election for executive board, I am one of those people so I guess I will have to beg forgiveness before I even get seated on the board. Hello, Keith? Am I forgiven? Kim, I’m just trying to do my part on raising awareness of the gift I received 20 years ago. I really, really, really want to thank everyone who has ever donated to ALA because I wouldn’t be here today without your help.)

Okay, readers, get out there and connect some person like me with one of these scholarships and let’s train the next generation. Tell me about other scholarships that are out there beyond ALA’s and I will be THRILLED to post them here. Let’s get to work and live up to our reputation as being the donating-est generation.