Demetria Tucker is Commencement Speaker and SILS Distinguished Alumna

May 5, 2014

Demetria TuckerDemetria Tucker (MSLS '78), senior family and youth librarian at the Pearl Bailey Branch Library in Newport News, Virginia, will receive the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Distinguished Alumna Award for 2014 at the School’s commencement ceremony on May 11. Tucker, who will deliver the 2014 spring commencement address, was recommended through nominations by her fellow alumni and was then selected by the SILS Alumni Association (SILSAA) Executive Board.

"Demetria's outstanding work with youth services has distinguished her as a professional who fulfills the highest aspirations of SILS,” said William M. Cross, president of the SILSAA and Director, Copyright & Digital Scholarship Center at North Carolina State University Libraries. “Her commitment to children and their families in public and school libraries exemplifies SILS mission to improve the quality of life for diverse local, national, and global communities.  We are delighted to join the ALA, her library system, and First Lady Michelle Obama in recognizing the invaluable contributions she has made to her community and to the profession."

Established in 1981, the Distinguished Alumni Award is presented by SILS Alumni Association to recognize alumni who have demonstrated outstanding professional library or information science achievements at national, state or local levels or who have provided outstanding service to SILS or its Alumni Association.

“I am both shocked and truly humbled on being selected as the 2014 Distinguished Alumna,” said Tucker.

In the years before beginning her current job for the City of Newport News in 2008, Tucker has served as a School Library Media Specialist for the City of Roanoke Public Schools; Acting Library Director for the City of Roanoke, Virginia; and Coordinator of Youth Services for the City of Roanoke Public Libraries. 

Demetria Tucker at the White HouseTucker has also received numerous awards and honors in addition to her 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award. In November of 2013, Tucker was honored at the White House with the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for her work with the Pearl Bailey Library Youth Program. This program offers a variety of programs designed to expand knowledge of literature and encourages participants to read for pleasure and personal interest. The award is the highest honor for out-of-school arts and humanities programs that celebrate the creativity of America’s young people, particularly those from underserved communities. Tucker’s program was one of only 12 programs across the country that was selected from a pool of over 350 nominations and 50 finalists.

In the same year, Tucker was also honored by the Newport News City Council with a lifetime achievement award. She was also the recipient of the 2013 Coretta Scott King - Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. This award is presented to a practitioner for substantial contributions through active engagement with youth using award-winning African American literature for children and/or young adults, via implementation of reading and reading-related activities/programs.

Tucker earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University-Greensboro, and an MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Tucker’s commencement speech will address the theme, “Why passion for what we do and compassion for the people you will serve are important assets that will help sustain you in the workplace.” The commencement ceremony will be held Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.