The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

School of Education - Library and Information Studies

ACE Scholars Program


UNCG has instituted the Academic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Scholars Program in order to increase the number of culturally diverse librarians in academic libraries. With major funding received from a third grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, we recruited 11 students from under-represented communities into UNCG’s two-year Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) degree program. When finished with the program, graduates will be prepared for professional positions in community college libraries, with emphasis on serving diverse populations, including refugees and immigrants. The ACE Scholars in this 3rd cohort will bring their authentic perspectives to work with diverse user groups and will be mentored by experienced community college librarians, along with attendance at professional development activities.

At this time, the program is full and is not recruiting new participants. If you have any questions, you may contact Dr. Nora Bird, at


The first cohort of 14 ACE Scholars entered in the Program in fall 2009 and graduated in May 2011. Some of them have become professional librarians since. The second cohort of 20 ACE Scholars started the Program in fall 2011 and graduated in May 2013. Ten institutions in North Carolina are participating in this collaborative program.


ACE Scholars 2013-14 Blog
ACE Scholars 2009-11 Blog
ACE Scholars 2011-13 Blog

Press Releases
UNCG Wins Third Grant – 2013
UNCG Wins Second Grant – 2010
UNCG Wins Federal Grant – 2008

Mentoring Forms
ACE Scholars Mentorship Guide
Mentors List
ACE Mentorship Reporting Form

Participating Institutions

The University Libraries and the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) were awarded grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program to create and implement the Academic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Scholars Program which helps recruit students with culturally diverse backgrounds into a two-year Master’s of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) at UNCG. Graduating ACE Scholars will increase the number of librarians from underserved communities in the United States.



Monica Alston-Carr

I live in Charlotte, North Carolina and am a Charlotte native.   I graduated from Queens University-Charlotte with a BA in American Studies.  I currently work at Central Piedmont Community College-Cato Campus Library and occasionally the Cato Law Library.  While completing my Masters, I would like to continue to work at an academic library.  Cooking, traveling, and decorating are a few of my hobbies.

Harold Escalante

My name is Harold Escalante and I’m originally from Lima Peru, although I have lived most of my life in the states.In Peru, where I was born, libraries are mainly for academic study. Although that is changing it is still far from what we have here in the US. I am very thankful that my parents brought me to America because I fell in love with the library from the first moment I stepped inside one. I remember thinking what a luxury it was to be able to pick any book from that building to take home. I did become that kid who would spend hours reading in one corner and bothering the librarians for suggestions or to tell them I had yet again misplaced my card.I can’t believe that time has passed and now I am the person helping kids discover that love of reading. I feel very fortunate not just to be getting my degree at UNC Greensboro but to be doing it through the ACE Scholarship Program.Currently I work for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library as a Children’s Specialist. Working directly with kids is an amazing experience. It keeps me busy and active. I also work a lot with the Latino community in my area and I certainly hope to continue that work once I get my degree. What kind of library I want to work at changes on a daily basis but I do know I would like to be more involved with the digital end of things. I think libraries are trending in that direction and it feels like an exciting time to be a part of it.

Gabriel Graña

Words motivate me. In fact, I feel most powerful with a pen in my hand and a blank page in front of me, or a keyboard and a fresh document. I walk the line between formal and casual because that’s where I think we can be most honest with the world. With words we spring questions, with words we seek to answer them, and that’s what brought me to study Librarianship. Many people told me I should study creative writing in Graduate school, but I knew that, for me, I wanted to be more engaged with words. I wanted to use them help others, especially those who didn’t have the words to frame the questions. This inspiration came from my 6 years of teaching Middle School Language Arts, and extends far beyond the classroom into the community. When I speak Spanish in Miami- where I was born and raised- I feel at home; when I speak English I feel equally strong. Not everybody has this stock of language from which to choose, but I do. And I intend to use this to help serve others’ needs as a librarian, but most importantly to inspire them.My family came from Cuba many years ago, but I grew up in the enclave that sprouted in Miami due to the various immigrant movements. I studied English Literature at Florida International University, and earned a BA. I was close to a minor in Film, Art, and TV Production, all fields I hope to bring into the library I one day run. My deepest passion lies in poetry and the flexibility of language, especially in this digital age, and I’m motivated by encouraging others to be more engaged with literature, beyond the page in new and exciting ways. Being a member of the ACE Scholars cohort is an opportunity that I fought for and won’t take for granted, much like my family fought and worked to establish themselves in this new country. So I look to future horizons with the present as my beacon and my vessel and my past as the steady deck beneath my feet. I will navigate these waters and embrace the evolution that will follow. ¡Dale!

Christin Hope

Hi! I am a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. In May 2010, I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Since, I have worked as a temporary tutor, substitute and secretary, in elementary and high schools located in Charlotte, North Carolina. I also contributed volunteer service hours for various organizations and companies. While working as a temporary substitute and tutor I volunteered in the school’s library soon realizing that my true passion is to work in a library. My career goal is to work in an academic library becoming a librarian for a community college. I am grateful for the ACE program and look forward to learning and gaining more experience while working towards my career goal.

Jarrian Jefferson

My name is Jarrian Jefferson. I was born in Winston-Salem, NC and I’ve spent most of my life here. As a child I was always active, participating in a number of different sports. Also, reading has always been a passion of mine, as much of my formative years were spent in the library. I used to check out R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books throughout elementary school. Just thinking about some of his books brings back such fond memories! I believe that because I was an avid reader, subjects that were reading intensive (English, History, Social Studies, etc.) were my best subjects. I was ALWAYS a terrible math student, but to this day I still find most sciences intriguing. I graduated from high school in 2002, and enlisted in the Air Force in 2003.After completing four years in the Air Force, I decided to shift gears by getting out and going to school full-time, with the ultimate goal of working in radio as a DJ. My time working at WSJS in Winston-Salem was enjoyable, as I met more than a few interesting characters and learned quite a lot. However, after working in radio for four years, I decided to get out of the field, as I didn’t see much growth in the field in the future. I tried a few other jobs (including police work), but ultimately found the other options unsatisfying. I was still in “search mode,” seeking out my dream job, my dream career.One day I was at the public library in Forsyth County. I know a few of the librarians there personally, and I decided to ask them about their profession. The more questions I asked, the more interested I became. It almost seemed as though fate had intervened and led my search to the Reference Librarians at the Public library. After doing my own independent research on the profession, I decided it was well worth pursuing; I saw myself as a natural fit. I must say, all the librarians there were very helpful, just as librarians should be.As I applied to UNCG’s graduate school, I was also told to apply to the ACE scholars program. One of the librarians that I know was an ACE scholar in the second cohort, and she explained how much she enjoyed the program and her cohort. She went on to explain how much she enjoyed the professors there, and that she could see me as someone who could add something to the field, seeing as librarianship is a female dominated career. I decided to take her advice and apply….The road to being an ACE scholar has been enlightening and fun to me. Graduate school is a completely different experience than undergrad, which I expected. I am honored to have been chosen to be a member of this cohort, and I plan on giving it my all!

Cheryl Lake

“When you educate a man, you liberate a man.”-Dr. Benjamin CarsonSpeech National Prayer BreakfastGod instilled in me an absolute desire to learn, to seek truth, to understand, and to grow. Throughout my life books played an integral part in developing questions, seeking answers, and expanding my faith as well as my understanding of the world and how it works. I grew up in a small town in Maine that ran alongside a river and a cemetery. Both of which became a refuge for an imaginative child full of questions. Out of five children, I was the only one to attend University, earn a Master’s degree in literacy, and begin a second Master’s program in MLIS. I seek to work in an environment that fosters education for all and places value on each person who is served.

Yvonne LaRoche-Pardo

The ACE Scholars program has enabled me to concentrate more fully on graduate studies while working part-time and spending time with my family.  My background includes obtaining my paralegal certification and working as a real estate paralegal for some time.  My undergraduate degree was in economics and, after my first child was born, I became self-employed as a subcontractor for a medical transcription company.  I have been successful working from home because I am able to utilize my organizational abilities and get things done independently, from which I derive great satisfaction.  It is very important to me to engage in actions that will produce actual, real results.  For this reason, I am especially grateful about being involved in a program that will assist me in being skilled at working with those from diverse backgrounds.  My more recent education has included special education courses for a provisional license, though I chose to pursue a career as a librarian instead.  Interacting with others and service oriented activities appeal to me greatly and I look forward to engaging in these efforts as a librarian.

Nichole Nichols

I am a book lover, a writer, a poet, a teacher, a budding media entrepreneur, and in a little less than a year, I will be able to add librarian to that list. Librarianship is like a perfect storm in my eyes; not only will I have the opportunity to work with information in all of its myriad of forms, but I will also be able to change lives by helping others discover the world around them and the world within them through that same information. The skills that I have gained through years of teaching developmental classes at Guilford Technical Community College, teaching 6th grade in Guilford County Schools, and studying at Hampton University for my bachelor’s degree in English and at Syracuse University for my Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism put me in a unique, fortified position to bring something innovative to the library and the patron community that I hope to serve in the future.The opportunity to be an ACE Scholar, to dedicate my tenure in the MLIS program at UNCG to learning about best practices for community college libraries and ways to creatively support the students who use it is a priceless one that fills me with anticipation and excitement about the possibilities and the places that taking full advantage of this opportunity will take me.

Kristen Nimau Hartman

Greetings! My name is Kristen Nimau Hartman, and I grew up in San Francisco, CA. After earning my B.A. from San Francisco State University, I moved to New York City. While there, I earned my M.S. from St. John’s University and taught middle school in Queens, NY.I currently live in Boone, NC, and I teach middle school in a neighboring county. I love to travel and have been all over Europe and North America. In the near future, I hope to travel to Asia. I am an avid runner and enjoy running long distances.While the field of librarianship is new to me, I am an avid reader and have been a patron of every local library that was within walking distance. I hope to transition into academic libraries in the future. I am excited about entering a new field, meeting interesting people, and especially being an ACE scholar!

Maria Saldarriaga-Osorio

I am Maria Luisa Saldarriaga-Osorio.  I am from Colombia-South America.  I have been in the U.S. for a little bit more than two years.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Communications.  I have worked in Communications in different companies in Colombia.  My last job in Colombia was in one of the biggest Universities of my country, Universidad de Antioquia.  I worked there for 3 years.   It was there where I realized I love to work in an academic environment, with teachers and students.  When I came to the U.S., I started to do volunteer work at Mount Airy Public Library to improve my English. The library was the first place to open the doors to me.    Now I am working at Surry Community College Library as a Library Technical Services Assistant, and I feel very happy.  I love to be in touch with students and teachers.   I am an MLIS student and ACE scholar; this is a very good opportunity because it allows me to combine my past in Colombia, my present at Surry Community College Library, and my future life in the United States of America and library career goals.

Jennifer Stith

Hi! I am a native North Carolinian who currently resides in Charlotte where I work as the Evening Library Supervisor at Johnson C. Smith University.  From my teenage years I have worked at independent bookstores, a publishing company, a museum, and a special library. However, my academic library career started when I volunteered at Johnson C. Smith University’s archives in 2011 and discovered how well-suited my interests and experiences were for a career in academic libraries. I was right at home! I haven’t looked back and have truly enjoyed learning about libraries as I explored roles in archives, acquisitions, marketing, and now library supervision.My undergraduate degree is in Communications from Salem College. I also have an interdisciplinary graduate degree in Global Affairs with a specialization in World History and Culture from the University of Denver.  My main interests within the LIS field are inter-cultural usability, international librarianship, and digital scholarship within the humanities. I am excited to pursue these areas as I move through my coursework at UNCG as an ACE Scholar.


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