Nothing to Keep Quiet About

Hilda Loh-Guan MMLIS ’18 wins American Library Association scholarship for future diverse library leaders

July 13, 2017

Hilda Loh-Guan MMLIS ’18 has become the first student in USC Marshall’s newly accredited Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) program to be granted a Spectrum Scholarship from the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services.

Through the Spectrum Scholarship Program, the ALA provides scholarships to racially and ethnically diverse students to assist them in their pursuit of graduate degrees in library and information studies and prepare them for leadership positions within the profession.

The Spectrum Scholarship Program is highly competitive. For the 2017-2018 awards, the ALA received three times as many applications as there were available scholarships. The 61 Spectrum Scholars were chosen based on their commitment to diversity, commitment to entering the library profession, demonstrated community outreach, academic ability and achievements, and leadership potential.

Gary Shaffer, director of the MMLIS program at USC Marshall, said the Spectrum Scholarship is a career-building award.

“Many librarians who have received a Spectrum Scholarship over the years have gone on to run public and academic libraries, as well as hold other important roles within the profession,” he said. The scholarship program celebrated its 20th anniversary in June.

Tragedy Into Triumph

A native of Temple City, Calif., who frequented the library every week with her family as a child, Loh-Guan has been working for the Los Angeles County library system since 1996, after she earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Colorado State University’s Global Campus.

Loh-Guan had always wanted to pursue graduate studies, but finally decided to take that step after a family tragedy. “My husband passed away very suddenly in August 2014,” she said. “That gave me a jolt. Did I want to stay a paraprofessional or did I want to grab those boots and put them on and finish school?”

She decided that for the sake of her three young children, aged 4, 6 and 8, she would return to school.

The Marshall Difference

Obviously she had to find the optimal program. As a working mother, she couldn’t sit in a classroom, so the program had to be online. And already a library manager, she didn’t want a graduate program that was going to focus on the service, research or technical skills she already had.

Marshall’s online MMLIS program fit the bill perfectly. The program is distinct in that it provides a robust leadership and management component, in addition to the library and information sciences focus typical programs provide. That’s exactly what appealed to Loh-Guan.

“When I saw the USC Marshall program offered the leadership and management training I was looking for, it was a no brainer because that was something most online programs did not offer,” she said.

“I find it a deep honor to be accepted to USC,” added Loh-Guan, whose goal is to become a library administrator or executive management in a library system, and possibly teach at the university level. “I hope to be a good role model for the rest of my cohort and future librarians.”

In the meantime, her three children, who support their mom by doing their homework while she does hers, will no doubt grow up spending a lot of time in the local library—just like their mom did. And that's always a happy ending.