Arts major is 2022 recipient of Friends of the Libraries Scholarship

August 26, 2022
Hannah O’Neill the 2022 recipient of the Friends of the VCU Libraries Scholarship.
Jay Paul photo

Hannah O’Neill, a junior communication arts major, is the 2022 recipient of the Friends of the VCU Libraries Scholarship. The funds will help her pay tuition for the year and ease some financial pressure. 

“I'm incredibly grateful to the Friends of VCU Libraries and to the library staff for supporting my education and the pursuit of an artistic career,” O’Neill said. “This scholarship gives me a greater ability to focus on school and art, without having to worry about how I can do that in the first place. I'm looking forward to submerging myself in my work and coming closer to a creative future.”

She aspires to work in the film industry after graduation. “Whether it be concept design, animation, or something else, I would love to be involved with the behind-the-scenes of movie making. I chose to study at VCU because of its renowned art program and I am looking forward to carrying out my last few semesters of college here.” 

Like many successful students (she has a 3.9 grade point average), O’Neill knows to turn to the libraries for help. “Without fail, the library's staff has always helped me find what I need,” she said. “Whether it be a book, or an answer to a question, they consistently guide me to what I am searching for in a prompt manner.

“This is especially true in the Special Collections and Archives Department. The Special Collections staff has provided me with an opportunity to gain access to art resources that are hard to find. They have also given me additional resources outside of the library to explore later. I have always had a positive experience with the staff and continue to go to them whenever I am in need of something.”

Last year, in the Special Collections, she read the Stardust graphic novel, illustrated by Charles Vess, a VCU alumnus. “It felt great to read such a beautiful book that I wouldn't typically have access to. The staff helped me to find another book of his in the library that I could borrow and I used it for inspiration on another project.”

Library resources have been vital to her as an art student. She relies on The Workshop on the lower level of Cabell Library to work on projects. Usually, she checks out camera equipment that her budget wouldn’t allow her to purchase. “I've also depended on using the Macs and the scanners to polish up artwork. I scanned illustrations in The Workshop and used Adobe Photoshop and After Effects to edit the video.” She also did a project for a visual design class using a library camera. “I used the library's camera equipment to shoot the footage and used After Effects for the editing. Having Macs in The Workshop is a blessing. If my laptop starts to struggle keeping up with the editing software, I can turn to The Workshop for a stronger computer. The Workshop staff, in particular, has played a large role in helping me learn how to use the technology properly.”

O’Neill, who identifies as Filipino American, is active in VCU's Filipino Organization (FACT). As the organization’s photographer and historian last year, she needed professional equipment to fulfill her duties. “High-quality camera equipment is difficult to come by, especially as a student whose finances are directed toward funding my education. The Workshop lets me borrow all the materials I need, free of charge. Furthermore, it has provided me with the opportunity to practice and become familiar with multiple types of photography and videography equipment. My skills have grown significantly over the past school year, and I would not have been able to accomplish that without the help of the library.” 

She also studies in the library building. “I am thankful for the range of different environments that I can study in. I work best when I can constantly change the space I am working in. Staying in one spot every time I open up my textbooks and notes is difficult for me. I grow bored easily and soon become distracted. However, VCU Libraries has a plethora of places that can accommodate my academic needs. The ranging levels of silence, matched to the different floors, is a wonderful example of this. Some days I need to be surrounded by background noise and the voices of my peers as I study. Other times, I’m in need of complete quiet. And often I find myself looking for a place right in between. The enormous number of desks and rooms that fit all of these descriptions is important for me to have, and I couldn't be happier with the amount of options.” 


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