The School of Information has established a group of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) student representatives for each degree program at the School. The representatives will participate in monthly committee meetings with faculty and staff, engage with prospective students in webinars and in-person events like orientation, and develop and work on student-led DEIB initiatives.
These students, self-nominated and elected by their peers, will represent the needs and interests of current and prospective I School students in their degree program, with particular attention to students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in higher education and information, data science, and cybersecurity, including (but not limited to) Black, Chicanx/Latinx, Native American, and Alaska Native students, first-generation college students, undocumented students, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, women in STEM fields, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
“It’s absolutely essential for academic programs to center the voices and needs of students, especially students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in higher education,” said Catherine Cronquist Browning, Assistant Dean, Academic Programs, Equity & Inclusion. “I’m excited to work with these five exemplary student leaders who have come forward to do the important work of representing their own and their peers’ perspectives from an equity standpoint.”
Meet the Representatives
Nailah Hill, Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS)
Nailah is a first-year MIMS student specializing in UX research. Prior to the I School, she was a research executive, and received her BA in cultural anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.
“As an undergraduate student, I was on the board of the UPenn’s Black Student League, which was dedicated to building a familial environment for students of the African Diaspora through political representation, academic support, and relevant programming. I also co-founded HERstory, a one-to-one mentoring program for Black school girls in West Philadelphia.
“I strongly believe in positively impacting academic and professional spaces for not only myself, but other underrepresented students. I was drawn to the I School’s close-knit community and focus on each student, and I think that it’s the perfect learning environment for me.
“Becoming the MIMS DEIB rep is the best way for me to advocate for all prospective and current students. I’m honored to be the mouthpiece charged with ensuring that all students have the necessary support and resources to thrive socially, academically, and professionally at the I School.”
Tanu Kaushik, Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS)
Tanu is interested in public interest tech, machine learning, and privacy engineering. She is a second year MICS student.
“Meeting women in cybersecurity at the I School has been very inspiring. I have always been the only woman — and most times the youngest person on the team — working with engineers. My experiences throughout my life have taught me how achieving diversity is challenging if the culture is not inclusive; how equality is a cultural value that gets taken for granted or gets outweighed by numerous other factors. I want to support and represent students who struggle with such issues.”
Srishti Mehra, Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS)
Srishti is in her first year of the MIDS program. Her focus is on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“I’ve had the pleasure of learning and working in diverse environments, and have seen firsthand how the perspectives of those from different backgrounds have improved tech design and business decisions. All of us are different in some way or another, and these differences bring out better decision making, better problem solving, increased creativity, and improved efficiencies in a multitude of ways.”
Swetha Pola, 5th Year Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS)
Swetha’s current research focus is predictive and preventative behavioral health outcomes, bridging work at the intersections of AI, social justice, and brain science.
“Bringing diversity of thought, backgrounds, and democratizing access to the field of data science during the era of an increasingly algorithmically driven, datafied world feels urgent and critical to me. As a first-generation graduate student and woman of color, I am humbled to serve as the 5Y MIDS DEIB rep to support with recruitment and retention of students who hold identities which have been historically underrepresented in higher education.”
Ji Su Yoo, Ph.D. in Information Management and Systems
Ji Su’s work focuses on the intersection of technology and inequality and social computing using mixed methods. Her advisor is Coye Cheshire.
“I am passionate about helping I School efforts to roll out initiatives and a culture of true belonging and inclusion given the systemic and historic inequities in tech and academia. Ask for more, suggest more, stand for more! Actively voice the desire for more to be done at this school (and in any institution you’re part of!) in favor of underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities, and indigenous folks who deserve so much more than the little credit and support we give to their communities as a society. The I School has the potential to be a leader, and we can draw on Berkeley’s rich history to drive lasting institutional and cultural change.”
The School of Information is committed to a more equitable future. We hope the creation of these student positions will serve to enhance and strengthen the I School experience for all students.