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Michele Mason-Coles

Graduate Student Awarded Distinguished Library Sciences Fellowship

On her first visit to St. John’s Queens Campus, Michele Mason-Coles ’11MLS happened to glance up and saw a passage from the Book of Corinthians engraved on the front wall of Carnesecca Arena: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God.”

The passage gave Michele faith that she would find the strength to balance her responsibilities as a wife, mother, full-time employee and, now, a graduate student. “It was at that moment that I knew that I was in the right place and was doing the right thing in my life,’ she said. “I knew St. John’s was where I was meant to be.”

Michele enrolled in the two-year Master’s in Library Science (MLS) at St. John’s. This year she received further confirmation that she made the right decision when she learned that she had been named a 2011-2012 National Library of Medicine (NLM) Associate Fellow.

The distinguished honor provides a generous scholarship as well as a portion of her relocation expenses to Bethesda, MD. Created to prepare future medical library leaders, it is an intensive one-year health information and library technology training program. 

Michele is one of only four MLS graduates nationwide to receive the coveted fellowship. Katherine Shelfer, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Division of Library and Information Science (IMLS), stated, “As a former hospital patient advocate and cancer information specialist, she is extremely dedicated to providing patients and caregivers with the information they need to make knowledgeable medical decisions.”

This is not the only accolade Michele has won while at St. John’s. In addition to being awarded a full-tuition Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Scholarship, she received the Medical Library Association’s (MLA) 2010 Scholarship for Minority Students. In fact, the announcement of this award attracted the attention of NLM Associate Fellowship Director Kathel Dunn, who contacted Michele suggesting she apply for the fellowship.

“St. John’s flexibility and extraordinary faculty support made all this possible,” said Michele. When she entered the second year of the program, Dr. Shelfer  recommended  she consider finishing her MLS online. (The entire program is now available online.) “Being a Distance Learner has worked like a charm,” she said.

Michele also attributes her success to the “amazing support of her family and the unstinting encouragement of my mentor, Dr. Shelfer. She supplied the human piece of my education by inspiring me to think of myself as a leader in- the- making, urging me to take advantage of every opportunity.” In addition, the University’s Vincentian orientation complements Michele’s commitment to helping others. “I feel it is my responsibility to use my talents for the benefit of others,” she said.