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Where Are They Now?: Karenna Oner

Hello, my name is Rachel E. Kim, and I am an intern writing on behalf of the Fairfax Library Foundation. Welcome to “Where are they now?,” a blog series about the Foundation’s past scholarship recipients and their current situations.

Annually, the Fairfax Library Foundation, with the support of its generous donors, awards scholarships to library employees and volunteers, in hopes of fostering the professional development of the Fairfax County Public Library team. So far, the Foundation has awarded 209 scholarships totaling $175,784.79. Many apply, but only a few candidates are selected. These recipients are not only outstanding and hardworking, but are also enthusiasts of volunteerism and public institutions such as the library.

For the first blog of the series, I interviewed Ms. Karenna Oner, a recipient of the scholarship and a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh:

Q: What have you been pursuing or participating in since receiving the scholarship?

Since receiving the scholarship and leaving my internship at the Fairfax Library Foundation, I have enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh as a full-time student. I am pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice with a minor in Turkish and a certificate in East Europe studies. I am involved with the Varsity Rowing Team and the nonprofit Best Buddies, and have completed a yearlong fellowship with AmeriCorps as part of their organization, JumpStart. I have also gone on to receive a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship from the University of Pittsburgh and was named on the Dean’s List both semesters. I’m looking forward to continuing my studies and activities this coming year. Unfortunately, this year I didn’t have many opportunities to write, but I just joined the blogging platform, Medium, so I hope to publish some content there in the near future.

Q: What is your career aspiration/situation? What inspired you to choose this area of study?

I want to go into law enforcement. I was inspired to pursue this career field because I have always wanted to be a public servant and help those in my community.

Q: Why did you choose the Fairfax Library Foundation as your scholarship source?

I had been serving as an intern at the Fairfax Library Foundation for approximately two years at the time of the scholarship, and the Director of Development at the time had suggested I apply.

Q: What made you a good candidate for the scholarship? Did the scholarship match your interests or career aspirations?

I had a lifelong passion for literacy and library accessibility. Although I want to go into law enforcement, it's important to be aware of literacy and its challenges. My career goals may not directly correlate to the scholarship, but since the scholarship, I have done things related to literacy including working with the organization JumpStart to teach literacy skills to preschoolers in low-income areas.

Q: Why was receiving scholarship assistance important to you?

I am fulfilling my dream of attending an out-of-state school, the University of Pittsburgh, and it is going to drive me into a good bit of debt, so any financial assistance was and is invaluable.

Q: How has the scholarship shaped your career path? What role has it played in your life?

The scholarship has mostly led me to continue my values of altruism and stay engaged in the literacy community, especially through JumpStart.

Q: How have you contributed to the Fairfax Library Foundation or to your community?

I was the Social Media Intern at the Fairfax Library Foundation for nearly two years, and helped with social media, the website, and the blog. Since leaving Northern Virginia for school, I have kept up with these platforms and continued to support the Fairfax Library Foundation in that way.

Q: What role has the library played in your life? In turn, what role have you played in enhancing the library?

The library has always been a place I could go to learn for free and an easy place to access community resources. It has always inspired my learning. That is why I decided to enhance the library by giving it a voice through my social media internship and by making people aware of said resources.


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