This summer, the William H. Hannon Library partnered with the School of Education to welcome three groups of community college students as part of the School's Undergraduate Research Scholars Academy (URSA), a 10-day residential program where students are assigned mentors consisting of professors, graduate students, peers, and (you guessed it) a librarian.
One of the goals of the program is to task students with researching a current social issue and recommending potential solutions in a presentation at the program's conclusion. This year's program had three cohorts, including 27 students from Santa Monica College (pictured above), 37 students from East Los Angeles College (pictured below), and a “Career Pathways” cohort of 19 students who just began attending classes in the Los Angeles Community College District. For each group, the library played a vital role by offering at least two sessions that introduce the scope of resources and services at a university library.
As the Programming Librarian, I offered a library orientation and tour for each cohort, giving them an overview of the library’s resources, services, and facility. I also conducted an information literacy workshop, giving students the opportunity to refine their ability to locate, evaluate, and use various sources of information for their projects.
When Dr. Paul Jimenez (clinical faculty and Director of URSA) created the URSA program more than five years ago, he envisioned the library playing a vital role, given the program's focus on research. As a result of participating in the program since its inception, a librarian is now fully embedded in the program. In this role, I have had the unique opportunity to get to know URSA students on both a professional and personal level.
As a former student of East Los Angeles College, I am able to connect immediately with every cohort of community college students that comes through the URSA program. Furthermore, as a first-generation graduate from LMU, I am able to connect with many URSA students who also share a first-generation identity, providing me with an opportunity to mentor and inspire students by sharing my experience and offering advice for navigating higher education. As a professional, I aim to provide the URSA students with a positive first impression of university librarians and libraries with the hope that students will value and use them long after URSA and after transferring to a four-year institution.