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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Recent URI graduate sets down new tracks with outreach

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 7, 2005 -- Likened to the "Little Engine that Could," by her professors and colleagues, Darshell Silva is driven by her lifelong commitment to community service and outreach -- despite any obstacles in her path.

She takes that moniker for her full-steam-ahead attitude and effort put into building new connections between academic research resources and community organizations in need of information.

Now graduating with her Master's degree in Library and Information Studies and having served as the graduate assistant for URI's Clearinghouse for Volunteers as a student, Silva hopes to put her talents to work even harder.

She sees information as the key. In her past experience working with families of children affected by lead poisoning, food bank and other hunger-related programs, Silva said she has seen the tremendous need that many organizations have for accurate information, facts that will help them to build their support and resources.

Last month, she initiated and organized the first Community Based Research Connections Conference at URI to start the process. That conference already has generated some strong connections between faculty members and community organizations in need of research.

In addition to her focus on the research-outreach connection, Silva also initiated and organized various community service opportunities on campus to link students, faculty, and other individuals with the Rhode Island and local community.

In one such effort, the mother of two started the First Book URI Advisory Board, which collected and distributed about 6,500 free books to Rhode Island children.

This year, Silva has received several awards and scholarships in recognition of her efforts. She was awarded the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies' Elizabeth Futas Scholarship to recognize and honor her investment of time and talent to make positive change in the profession, a diversity award from the University's Multicultural Center, a scholarship from the New England Library Association. She also recently received an award from URI for Excellence in Graduate Studies at the URI Outreach Recognition Luncheon.

Born in Providence, Silva said she had a slow start in the academic world. She dropped out of high school and moved around a lot before returning to Rhode Island, getting her GED with honors, and then working toward her undergraduate degree at the University's Feinstein Providence Campus. She received her Bachelor of General Studies degree in applied communications in 2001.

Now Silva said she wants to serve as a school librarian and continue to build community connections.

"Libraries are wonderful resources for all people. I want to show people how to get the information they need, and then how to put it into use."

URI News Bureau photo by Nora Lewis