Brandon Shalchi graduated from the School of Information with a Master’s in Information Management and Systems in 2020, where he focused on strengthening his quantitative and qualitative research skills and learning how to use technology to tackle mental health issues effectively and ethically. He also completed the Graduate Certificate in Applied Data Science at the I School.
Prior to the I School, Brandon completed a Bachelor’s in Interdisciplinary Studies at UC Berkeley in 2018. He currently works as a Clinical UX Researcher at Limbix, shaping and evaluating information systems to be FDA-approved in clinically treating depression and anxiety — in his words “Literally a dream job.”
Why did you choose the I School?
I chose the I School because of the professors, the program’s interdisciplinary nature, and the student body. I wanted to study under some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, caring, and humble professors who are the leading researchers in their field. It’s genuinely incredible how down-to-earth many professors are in embracing and strengthening our academic and career interests. Even post-grad, many of them are my close mentors and friends — an irreplaceable experience.
What was your favorite class and why?
It’s so hard to choose since there were so many great courses! There were so many “mind blown” moments in the core and elective courses that completely shifted my thinking for the better — it’s truly a transformative experience.
I have six absolute favorites: Coye Cheshire’s Social Psychology and Information Technology (or his Computer-Mediated Communication course, which I highly recommend); Jenna Burrell’s Social Issues of information and Qualitative Research; Steve Fadden’s UX Research; and Alex Hughes’ Experiments and Causal Inference.
What was the advantage of being at the I School?
I believe one of the most significant advantages of attending the I School is how you’re empowered to tailor the program to your desired career outcome, championing your chosen niche. The interdisciplinary nature of the program nurtured me to think holistically about information systems in my chosen area.
What is an information challenge that intrigues you?
I love thinking about ways to use information systems to tackle social science issues. For example, how do we empower trust between groups via information systems? What technological affordances can we lean into to mitigate psychological and sociological issues? How are our society and culture influencing digital mediums and vice versa?
Do you have any advice to offer current MIMS students?
Embrace your interests; make the program your own! The professors and I School personnel are there to help you charter your authentic pathway most effectively.
Tell us about your experience as a student parent.
The professors embraced not only my professional interests but also my personal life. As a single father of two kiddos, I was able to bring my children to classes without question, especially when they were sick or out of school [prior to COVID]. I attended many office hours with my children and am forever grateful that professors embraced my personal life and background — not just my professional interests.
I also appreciate the staff’s dedication to the student experience: I’ll never forget our first cohort day doing fun exercises together, creating an environment/student body that honored and respected people’s personal life. Simple things like vignettes for my cohort to go through if a fellow student is a parent, really thinking about appropriate times to meet, etc. I’m tearing up writing this because that experience made me feel heard and like I belonged.