IA Summit 2018 - Backstage
IA Summit Volunteer and Experience Director, poster presenter and volunteer
“That’s a great idea.”
It was October, during the IA Summit site visit, when I sat around a fireplace with two of my colleagues at the Hilton Chicago and the first concept behind the IA Summit Scholarship Program was hatched. Vanessa Foss had been supportive of the student volunteers at the Summit over the years — I was one of her student volunteers when the conference was in Vegas 2007. Diversity Lead Paul McAleer drafted a roadmap on how the conference could be more inclusive and diverse. We discussed the concept for the scholarship at length with the co-chairs and they agreed – and gave their full support.
I’m excited to share how some of this all came to be and – of course – this year’s Scholars!
Origins of the Scholarship Program
In past years, various organizations have sent students to the IA Summit, including the IA Institute, FatDUX, and various regional chapters of ASIS&T. These were one-off scholarships where you apply, you attend, and you return home. The feedback for these have been great since students have been able to attend. But these were not self-sustaining — what happens afterwards?
The IA Summit Scholarship Program came out of a grander vision. We wanted to bring students in, welcome them into the community and watch them grow over the years and celebrate their achievements as family. This was not just a one-time scholarship – this was something that we envisioned as sustaining and fulfilling experience for the entire community, centering on the Scholars.
As we worked through the details, we brought in vital questions. How could we address the concerns for more diversity and inclusion at the IA Summit? What does it mean to be more diverse at the IA Summit? How is it different from diversity in tech in general or diversity in design?
Visions for the Scholarship Program
2018 is our pilot year for this program: Our inaugural year to test the waters, gather feedback on the application process, hone in on the application process, and observe the community response.
As noted above, one of our overarching goals is to create a community. We researched other organizations that have addressed this problem and took inspiration from the American Library Association’s Spectrum Scholar program and the Pride Foundation scholarship, which also focus on diversity and outreach.
We planned to include the following in the Scholarship program:
- Pre-conference activities: Day 1, Wednesday, March 21
- Welcome reception
- Dinner with conference chairs and scholarship committee
- Pre-conference: Day 2, Thursday, March 22
- During and after the conference:
- Slack channel on iasummit.slack.com just for scholars
Scholar Selection Process
We wrote this post as we reviewed the applications, and we’ve documented every decision made along the way. Being transparent keeps the Scholarship Program accountable. This process outlines how the applicants progress through the selection process.
Round 1 – Personal identifiable information
This first round covered the fundamentals:
- Did the applicant follow application instructions?
- Did they identify themselves or the school in their essay?
- Were they a current student at the time of application?
Essays that included personal identifiable information (including resumes and portfolios) were disqualified. Essay file names that had personal names were renamed for anonymity.
This round narrowed the pool of applications from 57 to 44.
Round 2 – Essays
Once applications were vetted for anonymity, essays were divided and assigned to the 5 judges. In assigning the judges, we made sure not to create situations where there may be conflicts of interest, such as student and judge affiliated with the same university.
Each judge received a link to download applications. This link only provided an Entry ID and the essay attachment. Judges did not have access to applicant personal information. The judges had 2 weeks to review and score the essays.
Each essay was scored on a 5-point scale on:
- Theme – How well did the applicant speak to the theme “Convergence” in the essay?
- Critical thinking – Did the applicant demonstrate critical thinking and present ideas in a logical fashion?
- Voice – Did the writer demonstrate a strong tone and have a clear sense of audience?
The total number of points for each essay was 15. For essays that went over the word limit, 1 point was deducted from the total score.
Once total scores were calculated, the applications progressed to the next round based on the total score. Essays that scored a 10 or higher made it to the final round.
This round narrowed the pool from 44 applicants to 25.
Round 3 – Awesomeness
Yes, we looked for awesomeness in the final round. No, we didn’t just take the top 10. Yes, we tried to be sure that we included a broad group of students from different cultural and educational backgrounds and reflected the diversity we were looking for when we first started out in this process. It didn’t matter if an essay had acquired full marks, but full marks did bring the essay into the final rounds for selection.
In our first year, the Scholarship Program is able to bring 8 students to the conference. Selecting the final 8 students was no easy task. We received an amazing number of passionate, smart essays.
Introducing the First Student Scholars of the IA Summit
In no particular order, the first 8 IA Summit Scholars are:
Morehouse College, Computer Science and Mathematics
Atharva Aalind Naik
University of Washington, M.S. Information Management
Alexandra Marie Lopez Jacinto
Pratt Institute, M.S. Information Experience Design
Jefferson University, M.S. User Experience and Interaction Design
Diana Gabriela Mendoza
University of Texas at Austin, M.S. Information Studies
DePaul University, Human-Computer Interaction
Kent State University, Information Architecture and Knowledge Management/User Experience Design
California College of the Arts, Interaction Design
Thank you again to all the Scholar Sponsors!
The community includes organizations like our sponsors, who are in this together with us. Without the IAS community, we would not even be able to bring the first 8.
… and individual contributors from the community
We’re already looking for sponsors for next year. Let us know if you’d like to be a part of this great program. Please contact Dave Cooksey at email@example.com.
If you’d like to contribute as an individual, because you’re cool like that, we’re accepting contributions as well: http://paypal.me/iastudentscholarship
For more information about the Scholarship program, visit http://www.iasummit.org/about/ia-summit-scholarship-program/
Grace is an independent UX designer with a focus on information architecture, content strategy, and taxonomy.She has attended IA Summit in 2007, 2015, 2016, and 2017. She has also volunteered to organize World IA Day for the IA Institute. She’s quite proud of her kitchen taxonomy and Asian drama thesaurus. She lives in Greater Los Angeles with her husband, son, and cat.
Grace is an independent UX designer with a focus on information architecture, content strategy, and taxonomy.She has attended IA Summit in 2007, 2015, 2016, and 2017. She has also volunteered to organize World IA Day for the IA Institute.
She’s quite proud of her kitchen taxonomy and Asian drama thesaurus. She lives in Greater Los Angeles with her husband, son, and cat.