In late October, the Information Management Student Association (IMSA) held elections to select new officers for the 2019–2020 academic year. As a student-run organization that acts as the collective voice of the School of Information’s student body, IMSA’s primary mission is to ensure that all students are able to take full advantage of the graduate school’s programs and resources.
Throughout the school year, IMSA typically organizes a wide range of events to meet both the academic and social needs of the average I School student. This ranges from large-scale external events like InfoCamp, a day dedicated to panels and innovation challenges meant to inspire students’ academic pursuits, to more intimate internal events like end-of-the-semester socials, fun occasions where students are encouraged to connect with their peers in a non-academic setting and feel more at home with their cohort. The student association also advocates for student interests regarding school administration and faculty matters, and is responsible for representing the I School in the greater university and professional communities.
For the past year, Meena Kaushik served as IMSA’s president, with co-president Daniel Rincon. Meena is a second-year MIMS student expecting to graduate in 2020, with an academic focus on human-computer interaction, social computing and new media. This past summer she worked at Google as a User Experience (UX) Design Intern, where she helped define the strategy and vision for the YouTube Learning destination page to increase viewer satisfaction and engagement. Currently, Meena is employed as a graduate student researcher, working with Dr. Marti Hearst on UX design and data visualization for a public education project.
In her last act as president of IMSA, Meena sent out a school-wide statement where she thanked the other departing IMSA members for their hard work in the past year before officially announcing the newly elected IMSA officers for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Succeeding Meena as president is MIMS student Jyen Yiee Wong, who has already worked hard in the past month to effectively transition into her new leadership role. As a first-year MIMS student, Jyen Yiee is focused on the fields of study concerned with human-computer interaction and UX design. In her current role as IMSA president, she will be responsible for leading the strategy and vision of the entire organization in order to productively direct the I School student experience.
The other recently-elected IMSA officers will help Jyen Yiee accomplish the organization’s goals for the next academic year through their various functions and responsibilities. Max Ingraham-Rakatansky will serve as vice-president, directly supporting the president by maintaining communication between IMSA and the I School student body. Kimberly Hirsch will serve as treasurer, responsible for keeping track of accounts and IMSA’s annual budget across all events. Ryan Liu will serve as the academic chair, responsible for liaising between the faculty and students to ensure satisfaction in academics. Other positions include the recruitment (Amanda Wu and Esther Jan), career and alumni relations (Sneha Chowdhary), and social chairs (Elaine Kim and Qutub Khan Vajihi).
We interviewed both the outgoing president, Meena Kaushik, and the incoming president, Jyen Yiee Wong, to hear firsthand about their experiences in IMSA and gain a better understanding of what it means to the association’s leader.
What motivated you to run for president?
Meena Kaushik: Student government has always been incredibly close to my heart; it's been a source of tremendous personal growth and fulfillment. In addition, I wanted to run for this position to support both council goals and goals of each IMSA member, foster community among I School students, help define the direction and vision of the student experience, and most of all, be in a position that I could translate the needs and voices of students into action.
Meena, could you share any exciting events/projects your team worked on that you’d like to highlight from the past year?
MK: I'm most proud of our weekly i-Teach events, wherein current MIMS students lead sessions ranging from SQL to the Product Development Cycle. It's a great opportunity to not only learn from each other but also witness the incredible insights, skills, and experiences that our fellow classmates have. It also truly is a testament to how supportive MIMS students are to each other. I'm also proud of the changes we made during our tenure — InfoCamp is getting revamped to better serve MIMS students, there is an Academic/Career committee to better represent the diverse interests of students, and there are additional committees to involve more students while enabling IMSA members to focus on their role-specific goals.
Jyen Yie, what are your goals for the new year?
JYW: Generally, I want to make sure that the MIMS students have not just a productive, but also an enjoyable experience during their time in the program. I plan to achieve that by working closely with the rest of IMSA council to help students grow and pursue their interests while planning fun events in between to help them unwind and have fun!
Why is IMSA’s work important to the I School?
MK: IMSA advocates student interests to staff and faculty, represents the School of Information in the greater university and professional communities, unites the School of Information community, and supports the social, academic, and professional lives of I School students. For example, we were able to collect student input in regard to course schedules and work with staff to make adjustments accordingly in the short- and long-term. I think the work IMSA does is absolutely critical to student life and wellbeing for both current and future students.
JYW: IMSA connects the current MIMS students to the greater I School community. This is important as it helps I School stay up to date with the current needs of students and provide events accordingly. IMSA also ensures that students have a space to express themselves and that their concerns are communicated to the Students Affairs team.
Meena, looking back, how did you enjoy the experience? Jyen Yie, are you enjoying the experience so far?
MK: I am so grateful and proud to have been a part of IMSA. I honestly could not have imagined a better group of students to represent and advocate for and am so thankful for the trust, support, and candor I received from my council, students, and staff. It was certainly hard to leave and loads more I wish I could have done, but I am fully confident that IMSA is in great hands with the MIMS '21s and I can't wait to see what they do!
JYW: The responsibilities definitely kicked in sooner than I was expecting [laughs]. But I have a great IMSA council that’s been really great to work with. It’s inspiring to see that every council member is passionate about their respective role. So, yes, I am definitely enjoying the experience so far!