May 23, 2024

The I School Graduate Scholars Program in 2024

In 2020, the School of Information was selected as one of nine recipient schools or departments on campus to receive the Graduate Division’s Graduate Diversity Pilot Program grant. This trailblazing $1.5 million initiative was intended to support departments in advancing diversity among their graduate student populations and improving their departmental climates.  

The School of Information turned this into an opportunity to create a much-needed path toward a more inclusive future for both the I School and the overall tech industry. Four years later the initiative is now known at the I School as the I School Graduate Scholars (ISGS) program, which includes 19 current MIMS and Ph.D. students from various academic disciplines and careers from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM. Many of these students are now leaders among their peers and actively give back within the I School community by providing support, encouragement, and advocacy.

Today, the ISGS program reflects the best of I School in its commitment to fostering interdisciplinary spaces and making a positive change. Scholars' research interests vary from econometrics, machine learning, entrepreneurship, information policy, and technical education. This close-knit community focuses on building community and has an informal mentoring structure. 

“Having a community I knew had my back has given me the confidence to speak up and take on more leadership positions at the I School.”
— Ria Antony

The program is administered by Roxanne Pifer, Director of Admissions and Diversity Recruitment. Pifer guides diversity initiatives at the school and works directly with underrepresented students to provide support throughout their I School experience. 

“I feel honored to be a part of this program and to have the opportunity to work closely with this group of students who care so much about diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Pifer said. “This very important group of students has created an amazing community where support and advocacy are central in all that we do.”

The scholars meet regularly to support each other throughout the program and celebrate each other’s wins. They attend gatherings focused on internships and career planning and de-stressing during stressful times of year, lunches with faculty, and they have access to the dean and the faculty equity advisor. 

“ISGS means a lot to me,” shared Ria Antony, MIMS ’25, “because it gave me a community of peers and faculty that I knew shared similar experiences and who would understand me. Having a community I knew had my back has given me the confidence to speak up and take on more leadership positions at the I School.”

a group of people pose to take a picture together in two rows
Ph.D. and MIMS ISGS Scholars gather to celebrate the start of the Fall 2023 term with Interim Dean Hearst and Faculty Equity Advisor Kimiko Ryokai at the Faculty Club (Photo/Roxanne Pifer)
a group of people sit around a table at a restaurant
Scholars celebrate the end of the fall semester with Dean Hearst at Great China in Downtown Berkeley (Photo/Roxanne Pifer)
students talk to interim dean Hearst at a restaurant table
Scholars and Interim Dean Hearst at Great China in Downtown Berkeley (Photo/Roxanne Pifer)

Last updated:

May 23, 2024