On Sunday August 12, 2018 the 17th Oregon MLS cohort of Emporia State University’s School of Library & Information Management (SLIM) celebrated its graduation! The graduation ceremony took place in the auditorium of Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland. Over two dozen students graduated this year, and Perri Parise, the Director of the Oregon MLS Program, could not have been prouder.
The commencement speaker was Natalia Fernandez, the Curator and Archivist of the Oregon Multicultural Archives and OSU Queer Archives at Oregon State University. Her reflections on the ceremony are on the SCARC Speaking of History blog. The student representative speaker was Lynne Stahl. Additionally, Oregon’s Interim State Librarian, Caren Agata, and OLA President, Buzzy Nielson, were also featured speakers, and SLIM’s dean, Dr. Wooseob Jeong, was the ceremony’s MC.
Fernandez spoke about how the graduates exemplify the Emporia State professional values of service, leadership, integrity, and mentorship. She expressed that as we advocate for equity and value diversity, we always have to remember it is not about our intentions, it is about the impact that we have; she encouraged graduates to always reach with one hand forward, while holding one hand back to lift others up; and she encouraged the students to remember that in their commitment to being leaders in our profession and our communities, our job is to use our positions of power to be advocates for those who lack power.
She asked the graduates to consider the question: what the values of service, mentorship, and leadership have in common? Action. Fernandez then shared her journey of activism and social justice throughout her career thus far, and reflected on words of wisdom expressed in a 2010 lecture by the archivist Randall Jimerson entitled “Archivists and the Call of Justice.” She stated that in the journey toward social justice, as information professionals, we each have a role to play as part of the work that we do. One of the many beautiful aspects of our profession is that activism can take many forms.
She closed by stating that it is incumbent upon all of us as information professionals to reflect upon our role and ask ourselves how we can be more pro-active to the cause of social justice as we serve, lead, and mentor others. When we fully commit ourselves to our professional values is when we can truly say that we are employing our power as information professionals, our expertise, and the love we have for our communities as we strive to promote a better society for all.
Excitingly, the 17th Oregon MLS cohort of Emporia State University’s School of Library & Information Management (SLIM) graduates are ready to take action – to serve, lead, and mentor – they are fellow activists!