#Humans of the Library: Kayla Erika Juanzo, RL

Ms. Kayla Juanzo as one of the segment hosts for a radio station in Palawan

I started #Humans of the Library to inspire people. I hope that in featuring different librarians and what they do, readers and non-librarians would realize that there is more to librarians than the common stereotypes we have of them.

For Women's Month, we have our first female guest! I'm aware that the first four librarians featured here are male. Compared to female librarians, there is a small percentage of male librarians. I also wanted to show that the librarianship field is open for all genders, not just one.

Our featured librarian Kayla Erika Juanzo. She graduated from her LIS degree in 2013 from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in the same field in the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is working as a librarian in LifeCollege, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. She is also a part-time teacher at Palawan Technological College, Inc.

Kayla has many and varied interests and passions. She is a teacher, writer, speaker, and aspiring artist. Lately, she's into radio broadcasting. Do not miss watching the video below, where you can see and hear her tell her unique story and she is a wonderful speaker.

According to Kayla, she was "born unique; I was born without fingers and I was born tongue-tied which, according to professionals, should affect my speaking." However, this did not hinder her from fulfilling her dreams and reaching her potential. Read her story:

Tell us about yourself.
I am Kayla Erika V. Juanzo, and you may call me Kei or Kayla for short. I am a 27-year old disciple of Jesus who happens to be working as a full-time licensed librarian at LifeCollege and as a part-time college instructor at Palawan Technological College, Inc. I am a batch 2013 Bachelor of Library and Information Science graduate from the University of Santo Tomas. Right now, I am hoping to be back in obtaining my Master's in Library and Information Science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

I am your editor-in-chief, spelling bee wizard, on-the-spot essay writer, features writer, freelance English critic, and impromptu public speaker. My top 3 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Quality Time, respectively. I am a happy person, and Math isn’t my thing.

Can you share your present work in the library field?
I am presently connected with my Alma mater, LifeCollege. I am a school librarian with a heart to teach and to reach this generation for Jesus. I do the regular tasks of a one-man librarian, and not long ago, I started conducting mini-Media and Information Literacy sessions with our students from Grades 4 to 6. These mini-MIL sessions should teach our students things like information sources, netiquette, etc.

As a librarian in practice, I am blessed to receive invitations to speak about what librarians and libraries can do to better serve persons with disability.

In the classroom.

Why and how did you become a librarian?
I became a librarian due to the influence and support of my English teacher in high school. I was studying Computer Science at UST when I realized that it wasn’t for me. I asked for my English teacher’s opinion and he suggested Bachelor of Library and Information Science. I did some research and did not think twice about the program. I immediately took the qualifying exam, got in, and found myself loving librarianship. I decided to pursue it because I believe there’s a space for me here and I saw the need for librarians.

What makes librarianship special, unique, or different from other professions?
Servant leadership makes librarianship special and unique from other professions. When you are a librarian, you assist people from all walks of life in their quest for knowledge. At times, you will be deemed insignificant but your passion to serve and to provide the right information will challenge you to continue serving. In my opinion, this profession will teach you that leadership is service, not position.

Aside from librarianship, what else are your interests and hobbies?
I am a productive person. Aside from librarianship, I am into teaching, writing, public speaking, visual arts, discipleship, and not long ago, radio broadcasting. While assuming my role as a school librarian, I teach Grade 9 English during daytime at LifeCollege and in the evening, I teach Ethics and Understanding the Self as a part-time college instructor at Palawan Technological College, Inc.

I also write for our church whenever they tap me to contribute articles. I am also into public speaking. I was appointed as Vice President of Education in a newly chartered Toastmaster club in Palawan but due to further studies, I had to temporarily quit. About visual arts, I am not yet very good at it but I am learning calligraphy and watercolor painting. Just this March, I started bullet journaling due to the influence of an officemate. I think that it’s relevant to add value to yourself and to make yourself interesting.

My other activities are connected to the church where I am a part of, LifeChurch, where we connect to people and build relationships. Finally, I am a Share Mo, Nao radio anchor at DWIZ 94.3. I am not the mainstay though; I just do segments.

For people who are not aware, can you tell us about your condition?
I was born unique; I was born without fingers and I was born tongue-tied which, according to professionals, should affect my speaking.

This video is an interview with Ms. Kayla Juanzo. Please watch it, her story in her own words is worth watching.

I have been born with questions that seemingly promised answers from pity and despair, but I have found none from them. I have been born with what others see as an imperfection. Truly, the absence of my fingers and hands have posted great difficulty in my life, but it never made me fragmented—never less and never more than a human. But as I faced adversaries because of my condition, I have found distinct skills and art in me and I saw life and did not miss its beauty. I struggled equally as others had, faced life just like others did. I experienced nothing alien to man but faced struggles majority does not have to face in their daily life. But these things have refined distinct edges of myself; I understood life at a deeper level, I have found an everlasting strength and comfort in God.

I learned to be thankful for both the things I do and do not have and for the very simple things that others might or might not enjoy. I learned to be thankful for the air I breathe and for blessings such as education and opportunities to hone my talents. I am grateful to have food on my table every day and to live life like a normal person. I wake, I breathe, I live—and not everyone gets to do that.

I am very bold in sharing my story because this is MY story. My identity. A unique story that only I can have — a personal story of how God changed me, of how God delivered me, of how God reassured me of my identity in Him, of how God drew me to Himself, of How God made me strong in my weaknesses, of How God confirmed His destiny and purpose for me, of how God made me experience Him, and of how true and truly good GOD is. It’s all about Him.

What is your advice to people with the same condition?
There are three things that I can advise people who are like me. First, convince yourself that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. You should fight your inner bully because more than anything, it’s ourselves that we need to overcome. We need to have the right perspective about things and our situation. Also, be comfortable about asking for help. Even the strongest person you know needs help.

Second, stay encouraged. Do not let the world define who you are and what you should be doing or feeling. Be confident that the One who made you never makes mistakes and everything that you are is a part of His plan.

Lastly, accept that you are a gift of God to your family, to your friends, to your circle of influence, and to everyone whose lives you will touch.

What is your view on how can libraries and librarians can provide services for those with disabilities?
It depends on the need or the level of handicap. For someone like me, I am mostly able to help myself around the library but maybe that is the first thing: be sensitive. Observe the level of need and from there, approach appropriately. If possible, too much responsiveness and attention should not show on the face while the service is being provided. Be comfortable with the idea of assisting a person with a disability. Librarians should provide clients with a non-threatening atmosphere.

Second, employees should be given proper training such as learning sign language, Braille reading, etc. Third, have the appropriate facilities such as parking for PWDs, ramps as a means of access, accessible toilets, etc. Lastly, create, solidify, and clarify programs and policies for PWDs. I’d like to take this chance to raise my concern about priority lanes. There were times when I had to wait because non-PWDs are being catered first in the priority lane. This did not only happen to me in malls and airports but even in some libraries that I have visited.

Thank you to Ms. Kayla for sharing her story! I am really amazed by all the featured librarians here so far. If you liked this story, feel free to share it.

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