By Alexandria Quesenberry
Thinking about applying for the Library & Information Science (LIS) Student Award? Alexandria Quesenberry (last year's recipient) shares what attending the annual meeting in Puerto Rico meant to her.
Even nearly six months after the conference, I still feel so grateful to have received one of the LIS Student Awards from Southern Chapter. My experience at the annual SC/MLA meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico was unforgettable.
As soon as I found out I was one of the lucky award recipients, I knew that my main goal for this conference would be networking. SC/MLA is known for being a very active chapter and there are plenty of information professionals that you can network with. For students, you know how important networking can be because you’ll make connections and learn new insights about the field.
Every year, the conference has a theme. One of the themes for this year, Community, seems especially apt for this chapter because all of the members are so friendly and welcoming. If you are nervous about attending a professional conference as a student, don’t be! Everyone that I spoke with seemed genuinely interested in my poster, my position at work, and my plans after graduation. I cannot express how valuable I found the New Member/Student Meeting hosted by Kim Meeks and her committee. If you attend the 2017 conference as a new member and/or student, please go to this meeting! The meeting gave me a chance to meet both new and experienced Southern Chapter librarians who shared their stories and advice.
While travel can be exhausting (especially when you have make-up class work to finish), I honestly returned from the trip feeling refreshed and ready to take what I learned at the conference and apply it to my schoolwork and job. I heard about many innovative research studies by attending paper and poster sessions, and it was great being able to share my project with others during my own poster session. It gave me the perfect opportunity to practice my public speaking skills as well as sharing knowledge with colleagues. All of the other posters and papers were inspirational, and I appreciated the chance to learn about the impact other libraries are making within their communities. If you attend the conference, I highly recommend presenting a poster or a paper. Presenting is great practice for your future career and it will add a little something extra to your résumé.
If you are at all interested in health sciences and medical librarianship, you should seriously consider applying for this award to help you attend the conference. Since this year’s conference is in Greenville, SC, it will likely be within driving distance for many of you. The award can help to defray gas costs, hotel fees, etc. Your school might also offer support for you to attend a professional conference because they know how valuable the experience is. This conference was such a learning experience for me, and I hope this was the first of many SC/ MLA meetings I will attend throughout my career!