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MSIS Student Diona Eberhart Layden Awarded ALA Spectrum Scholarship

Diona LaydenDiona Eberhart Layden is a licensed attorney and has served as a judicial law clerk for the Tennessee Supreme Court, worked in the Davidson County District Attorney General’s Office, and currently serves as a Guardian ad Litem in the Davidson County Juvenile Court. But after two decades of working as a lawyer, she decided she “wanted to do something a little different” and is currently entering her second year in the MSIS program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

She was recently announced as a recipient of an American Library Association Spectrum Scholarship, which “actively recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA.”

Layden is a member of the student chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success and the ALA-UTK student chapter and said she is very grateful for the Spectrum Scholarship, as it allows her to continue with her education. It also provides her with additional opportunities for professional development and networking through the organization.

Layden plans to graduate in December 2022, upon which she is interested in entering librarianship in an academic setting.  While law is her area of expertise, she is taking courses that would prepare her for a law school library, a government library, and a university library.  “I would have that background knowledge [for law librarianship], but with academics, you can serve students on the graduate and undergraduate levels,” she said.

The MSIS program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was an ideal choice for Layden for two reasons: she is already a Volunteer, having graduated from the UT Law School, and the School of Information Sciences’ distance education courses meant relocating was not necessary.

Layden highly recommends the MSIS program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  “I’ve really enjoyed the program, the faculty members are very open. The distance component, I was a little reserved about, but I’ve definitely enjoyed the program,” she said.

The distance education format became even more convenient when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and forced many schools to quickly switch to online learning. But, at SIS, classes were already online and Layden said it was great that the instructors “didn’t miss a beat” amidst all the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“I was very comfortable even with the resources available to students. When classes started, [the IT Department] had webinars and sessions so you could get comfortable with the platforms and programs. The faculty and staff are very attentive to what students need,” she said.