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2021 CCI Outstanding Information Sciences Graduate Student Award: Ashley Orehek

Ashley Orehek came to SIS dreaming about becoming some sort of science librarian and was part of the very first CALL cohort at the School, which trains students to become liaisons between scientists and the rest of the world. That dream hasn’t faded a bit, but she’s since added onto her path towards it. It’s likely that her ability to be flexible and her propensity to give her all in everything she does is why she is this year’s recipient of the CCI Outstanding Information Sciences Student Award.

During her time in the program, Orehek not only fulfilled the extra requirements of the CALL program, but she was also president of the American Library Association/Tennessee Library Association student chapter at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She also recently served on the dean search committee for the College of Communication and Information.

“I reviewed applications and contacted references, and that was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. I was going through the job seeking process myself at the time, so I could see what it was like from the other side,” she said.

In fact, Orehek recently accepted a position at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, Kentucky, as an instructional librarian. She said it was an opportunity to get real hands-on instruction and teaching experience before someday moving into a more rigorous, tenured position as a science librarian.

“I was given a copy of their strategic plan and there sounds like there’s a lot of big things happening and I’m excited to be a part of that,” she said.

One of her favorite courses, INCS 558: Planning and Assessment, taught by Associate Professor Rachel Fleming-May, gave her some of the most valuable information that she’s taking with her into this new position.

“It was really interactive, I felt like I learned the most out of it. She had us do a couple group assignments, and I had the same partner for both assignments. We had worked together before in other classes and we came up with some great ideas – we had to plan a program for a university library and document how we would assess it, what we would take away from it, and how the plan would encompass the whole school year,” she said.

But really, when it came down to it, Orehek felt as though all of her classes provided a great foundation for her new information sciences career. Additionally, the opportunities outside of class that were supported by the School gave her a chance to form interpersonal connections with other students and professionals in the field.

“I’m really glad that I came to Tennessee for school because I almost went to another school, and I think I got a lot more out of being at UT,” she said.