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Friends award inaugural scholarship to Monica Jimenez Sablich

September 8, 2021
Monica Jimenez Sablich on the terrace at James Branch Cabell Library.
Jay Paul photo

Monica Jimenez Sablich, a senior graphic design major, is the inaugural recipient of the Friends of VCU Libraries Scholarship Fund.   

“We had many outstanding candidates for this award and the selection decision was difficult,” said Kelly Gotschalk, director of development and major gifts for the library system. “Monica epitomizes the typical VCU student who relies deeply on the library. She is motivated, passionate and committed to her studies and focused on the future that higher education can provide. She is also what we consider a ‘non-traditional student.’” 

Jimenez Sablich, 34, is married and a transfer student who already has enjoyed career success. A native of Lima, Peru, she studied at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru but did not complete her degree. Her husband is a Virginian and they moved from Lima to the Richmond area in 2017 because they were aware of the outstanding reputation of the VCU School of the Arts and she planned to apply for admission. 

Professionally, she has been employed by the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the non-profit organization Latinos of Virginia Empowerment Center. She has also done two professional internships in her field with Dominion Energy and she has already received a job offer from Dominion for after graduation in 2022. As further testimony to her time management skills and focus, she has made time for involvement in campus activities through the PACE Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

"Monica Jimenez Sablich exemplifies the high quality of VCU students that the Friends of the Libraries Scholarship was created to honor,” said Dean of Libraries and University Librarian Irene Herold, “Her scholarship, thoughtful use of the VCU Libraries--people, materials, spaces--and community engagement set an appropriate high bar for future honorees. Congratulations to Monica!"

As a commuter student, the recipient said that if she wasn’t in class or at home, she was likely in the library. This is a habit for many students, particularly those who commute and need wifi and a quiet place to research, study, create and regroup between classes or activities.  

She says: “Cabell Library was always a refuge for me, between the study stations, the comfy chairs, the silent room, the relaxing puzzle, The Workshop and their top-notch librarians, Cabell Library feels like home at VCU. I can honestly say that, as a transfer student, Cabell has helped me succeed in many different ways.

Access to private study rooms and silent areas has definitely had an impact on her educational goals and achievements. “I have been able to schedule time in a private space, which was significant in my second and third semester, prior to the pandemic. I was able to have a phone interview with Paula Scher, one of the most acclaimed graphic designers of our time, for one of my classes in a study room. I was also able to land my first internship at Dominion Energy thanks to having a private space to interview with them while being at school. Being able to access that type of space has been of great help to complete personal, professional and school projects.”

She also relied on online information that informed her practice as a graphic artist. The library website allows students access to images, trend analysis sites, special collections and more. “As a graphic designer, it is imperative to have access to visual sources and documentation to be able to succeed in project research.” 

The Art Browsery, a collection of art, design and architecture books on the fourth floor, was also a much-used resource. “Knowing that there is a special section curated to easily find information around topics pertaining to the arts and design has been a game-changer in the way I am able to do visual research.” 

She also recognizes Arts Research Librarian Carla-Mae Crookendale as a valued ally.  “It is amazing that such a knowledgeable and caring person is a resource for students.  Carla-Mae is an encyclopedia for any student in the arts and design field. In my third semester, during the pandemic, I had to create an annotated bibliography of 35 sources. Not having any prior knowledge about the topic I was investigating, I was referred by my teacher to Carla-Mae. We met over Zoom a couple of times. She not only recommended sources and connected me with experts in the field but taught me how to take best advantage of  online resources, which was extremely helpful not only for my education but also in my personal development. Thanks to Carla-Mae I successfully completed my project with an A grade. Beyond that, I learned that our library has some amazing curiosities that are worth exploring.

“VCU Libraries feels not only like a place of study or a place of knowledge. To me,  Cabell Library feels like a safe place where I can grow and find the resources needed to pursue my personal and professional goals.”

The scholarship will help her financial picture in several ways including allowing her to attend the conference of the American Institute of Graphic Arts this year.

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About the Friends Scholarship Fund

“With educational costs skyrocketing and student debt growing, the Friends of the Libraries board wanted to help ease students’ financial stress,” said Stephanie Holt, who served as board chair when the fund was initiated. “In two years, the fund has nearly doubled and the bigger it gets, the more students we can help.” 

The goal is to support two students annually--one student on the Monroe Park Campus and one student from the MCV Campus, who is either a junior or a senior in a baccalaureate program or who is a graduate student with a bachelor’s degree from VCU. To qualify for the award the student must have at least a 2.5 grade point average. 

Please help the Friends of VCU Libraries to raise an additional $10,000 to bring the Friends of VCU Libraries Scholarship to the $50,000 level by the end of 2021. Make a gift online or contact Director of Development and Major Gifts, Kelly Gotschalk (BFA '90/A, MA '97/A) at (804) 827-1163 or kjgotschalk@vcu.edu for more information about planned giving or pledging to VCU Libraries.    

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