A new library fellowship has students giving as much as they are getting.
Author: Matthew Cook
Karp Library Fellows graphic

Rarely, if ever, has the job market been this daunting for our nation’s undergraduate students. At the University of Rochester, students can lean on resources like The Meliora Collective and the Gwen M. Greene Center for Career Education and Connections for help pursuing their career interests, including securing summer internships.

A new, more exclusive way Rochester is preparing students for life after graduation is the Carol ’74, Pʼ11 and Sarah ’11 Karp Library Fellows Program. The first thing to know about it: this is not a typical work/study program.

“A lot of fellowships tend to be very academic,” says Laquanda M. Fields, program coordinator for Karp Library Fellows. “This program goes beyond academic excellence. Karp Library Fellows will be placed in specialized library spaces and work to make them better while learning skills they can take into their professional careers."

The first programs benefiting from—and giving back to—Karp Library Fellows are the Barbara J. Burger iZone and Studio X. Future fellows could potentially be placed in Evans Lam Square and the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation.

In their roles, Karp Library Fellows will deliver knowledge and provide training to their peers and other patrons using their respective programs and services. They’re also expected to contribute to their program’s leadership, service, and research development.

Named in recognition of a major gift commitment from University Trustee Carol Karp ʼ74, Pʼ11 and Victor Glushko P’11, the program seeks exceptional students who are creative, self-starters, and leaders in their area of expertise.

“It is important that the students have a deep passion for the work they will be doing,” says Karp, who serves as chair of the University Libraries National Council. “We want these Karp Fellows to feel empowered to lead and mentor other students and help shape the future of the program.”

Ultimately, Karp would love to see the Karp Library Fellows evolve into a community, where members can learn from and teach one another.

Karp and her daughter, Sarah Karp ʼ11, who is also involved in the program’s development, met the fellowship finalists. Both were wowed by their experience.

“After meeting these students, I was incredibly impressed,” says Sarah Karp. “They were all very well-spoken and engaging. It was, at times, easy to forget that this was a group of rising juniors and seniors, rather than established working professionals.”

Meet the inaugural cohort of Karp Library Fellows.

Barbara J. Burger iZone

Julia Maddox, director of iZone, sees Karp Library Fellows as an opportunity to make big strategic strides and bring really talented students into the River Campus Libraries community. “These positions are meant for student leaders and leaders in the making,” says Maddox. “They have a special type of competence and productivity. So, we wanted people who can push us forward as we help position them as leaders.”

Two of iZone’s most valuable assets are now two of the first Karp Library Fellows.

Robert Petroysan


Robert Petrosyan ʼ22 | Online experience designer

Major: Business Marketing
Major: Digital Media Studies
Director notes: “Rob is one of the more efficient and talented people I’ve ever worked with. He also has a skill set none of us have, which is design. We’ll give him some vague instructions, and he’ll turn them into beautiful, purpose-driven artifacts and tools that create more effective learning experiences. He’s allowing us to do things we hadn’t thought were possible.”—Julia Maddox

I pursued this position because…I wanted to spend my summer working on iZone summer projects. I liked the idea of leading student initiatives with a focus on collaboration and innovation.

The skills and experience I’m bringing to this position…include drawing, animation, illustration, brand development, and a sense of leadership. The position requires me to be a well-organized leader and creative designer that can create engaging content. Luckily, I’m well equipped with all the necessary tools due to my working experiences as a graphic designer and marketer in various places around the world. 

I’m most excited to…work in an open-ended program. The nature of the project primarily depends on the creativity and hard work of the Karp Fellows. In short, we are shaping the program. We are coming up with the projects, developing them, and implementing them for our communities. Each of us has unique skill sets that allow us to carry out projects easily and efficiently.

When I graduate…I want to become a “full-time student” as part of my career because the moment we stop learning, we stop understanding the world and what people need to live their best lives. I am also interested in exploring the world of brand development and how brands can affect and influence people. 

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say…They are amazing sponsors and have chosen strong and knowledgeable leaders who will produce amazing outcomes. 

Deniz Cengiz


Deniz Cengiz ʼ21 | Online instruction lead

Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Major: Archaeology, Technology, and Historical Structures 
Director notes: “Deniz is a force to be reckoned with. She is a mighty voice and constantly pushes us by challenging our assumptions and asking tough questions. She always brings us back to the ‘why’ of our projects, which further cultivates our culture. The fact that she is doing it as an undergraduate blows me away.” —Julia Maddox

I pursued this position because…during the academic year, I work as a Design Thinking Fellow in iZone. Since I spend most of my time exploring best-practices in design thinking and community engagement, the Karp Fellowship seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to expand on what I was already doing.

The skills and experience I’m bringing to this position…include leading audience-tailored workshops, organizing events designed to build community and resilience, and continually looking for ways to improve iZone’s project management systems. I also work at the Rochester Center for Community Leadership (RCCL) both as a community liaison and a teaching assistant for CAS202: Introduction to Community-Engaged Scholarship. My positions at RCCL have allowed me to serve as a mentor to 45+ of my peers at the University. I can use this experience to set clear team goals and practices that reflect everyone’s values.

I’m most excited to…produce unique collaborative projects and engagement opportunities for our community! River Campus Libraries has been my home away from home since I moved to the United States from Turkey. Since the first week of my campus life, I spent more time in the libraries than I have anywhere else on campus. I am very committed to our library’s vision for education and learning, and the Karp Fellowship will allow me to contribute to that through a mix of multidisciplinary projects and challenges.

When I graduate…I want to continue my studies in archaeology with a focus on bioarchaeology and Andean archaeology. I would love to enter a doctoral program, but before committing to a seven-year program, I may enter the education field to get some professional experience.

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say…the River Campus Libraries is an absolute powerhouse. Your support is allowing multiple generations of students to become a part of it and all the collaboration and innovation that comes with it. Thank you!

Studio X

There was tremendous and impressive interest in both Studio X positions. Emily Sherwood, director of the Digital Scholarship Lab, had the happy challenge of an excess of well-qualified candidates. “We were looking for people who could really jump in and help shape Studio X,” says Sherwood. “We also wanted to make sure it was a mutually beneficial relationship, where we could offer opportunities for professional development.”

Out of dozens of applicants from a range of disciplines, two students stood out in the end.

Emma Schaale


Emma Schaale ʼ21 | Public programs coordinator

Major: Digital Media Studies
Minor: Computer Science
Director notes: “Emma’s very involved in the video-gaming community and has experience in 3D modeling, which was not something we were anticipating for the public projects fellow. Having a sense of XR technology’s basics and potential will allow her to articulate its importance to students. Her creativity and insights on peer learning will also help make these technologies engaging and fun." —Emily Sherwood

I pursued this position because…of its focus on promoting XR in education. This was something focused on in classes I took during my junior year. Classes like CSC131: Recreational Graphics and CSC186: Video Game Development. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to apply my newly learned skills in academic- and industry-related environment. This position also features mentorship with faculty and students, which I've devoted time to previously, and I thought I could practice these skills in a relevant way.

The skills and experience I’m bringing to this position…are 2D and 3D design skills, such as animation, modeling/drawing, and UI design. These skills come from my previous work in DMS120: Video Game Design, independent study, and working as a graphic designer at a start-up fitness company. I also have experience in marketing from being the publicity manager for Rochester’s Video Game Dev club. 

I’m most excited to… apply my skills. I'm looking forward to using the marketing skills I picked up in previous positions to promote XR in education and to design materials that will be used to promote Studio X within the University community. I'm also excited to collaborate with and learn from the other Karp Fellows.

When I graduate…I want to work on a video game development team, hopefully involving XR, in a way that allows players to be immersed in the experience. I also hope to work in a mentorship position, where I can help new employees learn skills for their job.
If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say…Thank you so much for your generous support. This will jumpstart my career in the VR and game development industries, and for that, I am very grateful.

Sebastian Jakymiw


Sebastian Jakymiw ʼ21 | Immersive technologies developer

Major: Math
Director notes: “Sebastian has worked in the Digital Scholarship Lab for the last year as an undergraduate programmer. He helped us develop the Studio X app, so we already knew that he had technical expertise. But he also has a broad, deep knowledge base of Unity. Support for Unity is the number one request we receive from faculty. He’s also been involved in outreach efforts, participating in Advancement events and collaborating with faculty on XR projects.”—Emily Sherwood

I pursued this position because…I've worked with the Digital Scholarship Lab for the past year, and was interested in the opportunity to continue working on exciting XR technologies with the team. I’m was also interested in the opportunity to help create the first iteration of Studio X content and experiences.

The skills and experience I’m bringing to this position…is experience as a software developer, specifically an AR/VR developer—both in the private sector and at Rochester. I'm always trying to learn more about graphics programming and XR in general, so I'm bringing that enthusiasm with me, too.

I’m most excited to…get the opportunity to help create the first generation of workshops for Studio X. Being able to do that, while also continuing to develop my knowledge of XR and software development is a huge bonus. I'm also looking forward to getting to know and work with the other Karp Library Fellows since everyone has an interesting background and skill set.

When I graduate…I plan to continue working in software, hopefully somewhere that allows me the freedom to continue experimenting with and learning about exciting graphics technologies.

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say…I'm grateful for the chance to help the libraries advance their technology initiatives and for the chance to be a part of this first cohort of dynamic Karp Fellows. I would also thank them for trusting me, along with the other fellows, as the first cohort, since we have a lot of work to do in terms of what the culture of this program will be. ∎

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