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2021 SIS Gary R. Purcell Award: Kay P Maye

Kay P Maye never really noticed how information flowed and shaped the world prior to entering the MSIS program, but now he sees it everywhere, in everything he does. He’s particularly interested in how everyday people find information and how they judge whether or not it is good or bad information.

“I foresee myself either going instruction heavy in terms of teaching people of all ages, not just high school students or college students but adults as well, how to interact with information,” he said. “I think that this program has just changed the way that I think about how I know things, why I know things. It’s taught me to recognize that sometimes I know things or have access to information that other people don’t, so it’s my job to help them figure out how to get access for themselves. It’s not my job to be arrogant or pious just because I might know more. It’s to give information to other people so they can apply it to their own lives, because if I just give it to them, then that’s not sustainable.”

Maye has worked hard during the program to learn everything he can about information sciences, and he’s bursting with ideas. He was pleasantly surprised and pleased to hear that he was the recipient of the 2021 SIS Gary Purcell Award, which recognizes all-around excellence exhibited by one student in the graduating class.

“Everything is happening all at once and I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling like this is one of the first times in my life where I have less of a structured plan but I feel good. There’s so many things I could do with the degree, and that I’ve learned, that all I have to do is feel like I’m giving back,” he said.

Like many of his fellow spring graduates, Maye is hunting for jobs at the moment, but regardless of where he lands he has dreams. One of these is to create a business or organization that helps adults to better understand how to use social media and to improve their information literacy. The COVID-19 pandemic, and much of the surrounding misinformation that came with it, has only increased his desire to help others to understand the difference between quality information, and mis-or-disinformation.

Additionally, Maye is continuing to work on research with Assistant Professor Carolyn Hank around black men in the information sciences professions and why they make up such a small percentage of that population.

“We’re in the process of restructuring how we approach the research; what we’re noticing now is a lot of the research on black men in information sciences has employed surveys so we want to do interviews to see what comments they’re making, and to feed off of their energy. We’re trying to make sure that if we do the research, we’re doing it the right way and that we are we asking the right questions,” he said.

Maye said one of the reasons he wasn’t expecting this award was due to him being a distance education student, which can limit involvement in organizations or other events. But he said he has always gone above and beyond to connect with professors to get the most out of his education.

“I’m someone who loves to learn and I’m glad that someone sees that about me and credits me with that – I may not be on every committee but the work I’m doing is being recognized,” he said.