MLS student focusing on diversity, inclusion in classroom with scholarship
Thipphavanh Souksanh, who is set to graduate from the Masters of Library Science program next spring, was awarded the Diversity in School Librarianship Scholarship sponsored by the Tennessee Association for School Libraries (TASL). The award recognizes the need for school librarians who reflect the diversity of Tennessee's students, schools, and communities, and it rewards the scholarship to students from historically underrepresented racial/ethnic groups pursuing a graduate degree in library/information science, according to TASL's website.
Souksanh, who goes by Tip, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand in the late 80s. Her family escaped Laos years earlier along with almost one-tenth of Laos' three million citizens who fled after the country fell to communist forces. Souksanh said her grandfather went to Thailand first before he brought over his family which included Tip’s mother and three uncles.
“As a child, when you see anyone who looks like you or you have the same background it piques your interest,” she said. “When you can see someone who looks like you, you can almost see yourself. So, in my school, I try to be that for my kids.”
Souksanh said one of the core values of librarianship is equity, diversity and inclusion. She says that doesn’t just mean making programs and books available to all people, but also having different things reflected in the materials that are actually on the shelves.
“I try to find books that represent what I look like, what my students look like, and the disabilities I have in my classroom,” she said. “So, when people know and learn more about it, they have more of an openness to have conversation with people."