2021 VLA Scholarship Winners

Lytesha Ellis is currently a MLIS student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from North Chesterfield. She is active in ALA Games and Gaming Round Table as a Committee Member for Membership and Outreach and is a Server Moderator for the iSchoolofColor of UIUC. She is the recipient of the VLA Scholarship.

Lytesha had worked at the Chesterfield County Public Library as a Page for two years until furloughed during Covid. They currently have a 4.0 in grad school coursework and is pursuing a future in librarianship in Virginia with a focus in technical services despite setbacks of the past year. 

Her references praise her dedication, determination, enthusiasm, and intelligence. The Scholarship Committee selected Lytesha Ellis based not only on financial need, but their overwhelming commitment to library service and their goal of working toward their future library degree in a year of financial hardship. 

Sussan Ayala Rodriguez is currently pursuing an MLIS at Valdosta State University. She began working at the Pamunkey Regional Library in 2016 and has been promoted several times from Library Associate to Library Assistant and is currently Branch Manager at

the Upper King William Branch. She is the recipient of the CDR Alexander C. Varga Memorial Scholarship.

Sussan’s love of history led her to an interest in a career in libraries. She states, “Libraries do not discriminate, and they promote equal access to information for all. That realization was the final step in my journey to committing myself to librarianship. I do not believe it a coincidence that it occurred the same year that I became a naturalized citizen of the United States. I am now committed to both a country and a career that highly value equality, democracy, and public service.”

Sussan’s colleagues describe her as passionate about reaching out and connecting to the community, especially when the library was closed to the public and the only outreach was virtual. The Scholarship Committee was impressed by her long-term commitment to the state of Virginia and how adept she was at adapting to the many “hats” of public librarianship.

The 2021 recipient of the Clara M. Stanley VLA Professional Associates Forum Scholarship is Cheryl Wagner from Roanoke, Virginia. Cheryl has worked for Roanoke County Public Libraries since 2012 where she started as a part-time library assistant. In

October of 2019 she became the Circulation Manager at the South County Library. She currently supervises a team of ten.

Cheryl is currently pursuing an MLS at the University of North Texas. She says, “Being a student again has been humbling and inspiring. I cannot, with honesty, say that I know the clear and defined path before me. I do know that my heart is in serving the community through public library work. Some days that service looks like a forty-minute phone conversation with an elderly woman that wants me to hear her play the piano. Other days it involves looking up twenty plus book titles and requesting them for a patron that has “given up entirely on using computers.” No matter what new challenges I face in my job or what opportunities graduate school affords me I know very clearly that public libraries are essential to a community and that’s something I’d like to continue to be a part of.”

Cheryl’s dedication and commitment to the library field and to her staff and community throughout the Covid crisis stood out to the entire Scholarship Committee. VLA is proud to offer Cheryl the Clara Stanley Scholarship. 

VLA has been providing scholarships to students pursuing their Master's Degrees in Library and Information Sciences for nearly 30 years. Support this program with a tax-deductible donation today!