2023 FLA Award Winners

Alex Ibarra

Alex will begin coursework in Fall 2023 and graduate in May 2025 from USF. He has been with the Broward County Library system since 2012 and gradually moved up within the system to have more responsibility, which can speak to his potential to keep working within Florida libraries. Both of his essays focused on the broad good libraries can do and the many services they can provide, and how his experiences over the years have informed how he wants to continue working in libraries in a general sense. One committee member noted that he “seems to have a good heart.”

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: "As a kid, I hated reading. That is until I found the right book and I haven’t stopped reading since. To me, this scholarship means gaining the tools to help others find their first favorite book too. It means being the steward of not just books but a whole rainbow of programs and services that are increasingly vital. I am honored to receive the Bernadette Storck University of South Florida scholarship so that I may continue to learn and provide for the people in my community."


Jennifer Kemp

Jennifer is currently enrolled at FSU and is 12 hours into her degree program; she will graduate in December 2024. She has been employed as a school media specialist from 2010 up until this past June, which speaks to her potential to keep working within Florida libraries. Over the past 5 years she’s received numerous honors and awards and held leadership in relevant literacy and library organizations related to her work as a media specialist, which speaks to her potential to continue to grow into a leader within the state. Her essays focused on how important it is for her to step up her skills as a media specialist for her students and staff given the current heavy responsibilities being placed on school libraries in Florida to defend the right to read and her desire to continue excelling in the area of school media for the foreseeable future. The committee was impressed by her passion for leading and loving her students and fellow teachers, and found her application to be very solid. 

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: "Our Florida libraries serve people from all over the world and our library staff should reflect the beautiful diversity of our community. Receiving this scholarship is an honor. I am proud to represent my small but mighty Pacific Islander community. Thank you for believing in me!"


Jessica Waters

Jessica is currently enrolled at FSU and is 9 hours into her degree program; she will graduate in December 2023. She has been employed in various roles within the Palm Beach County Library System since 2009, working her way up to a member services manager most recently, which speaks to her potential to keep working within Florida libraries. She is involved in various committees within the PBCL system and has received two employee recognition awards from her peers. Her first essay focused on how she unexpectantly arrived at librarianship, her contributions to her library system, and her desire to do more, while her second essay laid out a path that would help her reach an administrative level with the hope of better serving her staff and improving service to her community. The committee was impressed by her interest in pursuing management.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: "Earning this scholarship allows me to continue pursuing my long-term goal of achieving a leadership position within Florida libraries to create inclusive and supportive work environments that foster professional development."