The two scholarships presented annually by Beta Phi Mu to outstanding new library or information students have both been awarded to first-year University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) master's students. Becca Greenstein and Alena Principato have received Sarah Rebecca Reed Scholarships, worth $2,250 each, from the international library and information studies honor society for fall 2015.
Becca Greenstein is a Boston native who attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in biology and minored in Chinese. After graduating in 2013, she worked as a lab technician in a biology research lab at the University of Minnesota before moving to North Carolina to begin the program at SILS. Greenstein said she was motivated to study library science because she has long enjoyed information gathering.
“I love to read, I love to do research, and I love to do puzzles, from jigsaws to crosswords to Boggle,” she said. “I majored in biology because I was drawn by the attention to detail and organization skills required to carry out successful experiments, the way cellular pathways fit together like pieces of a puzzle, and the broad scope of the topic and relatedness to other fields.”
Greenstein said that access to information is increasingly important in the digital age, and librarians are all the more necessary to assist people as they navigate the vast amounts of information now available to find what they specifically need.
“I have always taken great pride in helping people, especially when I can see the direct impact of my work, so being a science librarian and helping doctors, scientists, or students find that one answer they need for their research or work would appeal to me,” she said.
Originally from Robbinsville, N.J., Alena Principato graduated suma cum laude, and a year early, in May from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania with a double major in English and art. She traces her love of libraries back to early childhood. “Growing up as a triplet, my parents brought me and my siblings to story time at our local library, igniting a love of reading that shaped my life,” she said.
Principato volunteered at her local library in middle school, worked as a student assistant throughout high school, and interned with her high school’s media specialist, experiences that cemented her interest in librarianship. In college, she discovered a passion for academic librarianship while working in the reference, special collections, and visual resources departments. She also learned about UNC from Lafayette College librarian and recent SILS graduate a Ben Jahre (MSLS '13), who recommended both the school and the Carolina Academic Library Associates (CALAs) program, to which Principato was accepted for the 2015-2016 academic year. In addition to the Reed Scholarship, she also received the Sarah B. Askew and George LaMonte scholarships from the New Jersey Library Association.
Having been called to the profession from a young age, Principato is looking forward to taking the next step toward her career. “Librarians have the power to connect people with resources that can have a meaningful impact on their lives,” she said. “I aspire to help students and faculty succeed through collaboration, creativity, and a commitment to staying on the pulse of developments in the field.”