The Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Justice (DEIBJ) student representatives program at the School of Information, now in its fourth year, is an initiative aimed at supporting the needs of our current students.
Student representatives from each degree program at the I School participate in committee meetings with faculty and staff, engage with prospective students in webinars and in-person events like prospective student visit days, and develop and manage student-led DEIBJ initiatives.
Meet the 2024 student representatives:
Lauren Chambers, Ph.D. in Information Management and Systems
Lauren is a third-year Ph.D. student focused on how socio-political advocates engage with, respond to, and inform technology and algorithms. She graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in astrophysics and African American studies. Lauren currently is also a Tech for Liberty consultant for the Massachusetts ACLU.
Now entering her second year as a DEIBJ representative, Lauren is excited to continue learning more about how to best serve her community. In previous years, she led the I School Ph.D. Applicant Feedback Program and facilitated many discussions about equity and justice at previous workplaces. “I feel very comfortable presenting and leading spaces that discuss tough or new DEI concepts,” Lauren said. “As a marginalized individual in both academia and in STEM, I understand the stakes (as well as the limitations) of DEIBJ work and I am committed to advancing those goals in formal and informal capacities in all the work that I do.”
Juliana Gómez Consuegra, Master of Information and Data Science (MIDS)
Juliana is in her second year of the MIDS program, currently serving as CEO of the education consulting firm she founded Éccole. She focuses on data science and its applications in climate crisis mitigation and biodiversity conservation. Juliana graduated from the University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia with a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in biology.
After serving as a DEIBJ representative this past year, Juliana was empowered by the conversations she had with the DEIBJ working group members and female leaders in STEM. “I truly believe that working in a diverse group enriches the experience, and makes us all grow as individuals, and I would like to keep contributing in any way I can to make the I School a fairer and more diverse place. Being part of this group renews my faith in humanity because I feel that no action is too small,” she shared.
Neha Thigale, Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS)
Neha is a second-year MICS student, currently working as a privacy & security compliance engineer at Apple. She received her undergraduate degree from India’s Maharashtra State Board of Technical Education. Before coming to the I School, she worked for SJ Inc., Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and Hot Topic Inc.
“This is my long time dream come true,” said Neha.
After coming to the United States on a H-4 visa, there was a period of time when Neha was not allowed to work. Instead, she took classes at a local community college to sharpen her technical skills. As a result of her unique experience, she believes she has much to contribute to the conversation.
“My immigrant background and work experience gives me an in-depth understanding of [the] state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech industry, and I have ideas [on] how we can fill in the gaps,” she said.
Harim Lee, Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS)
Harim is in her first year of the MIMS program, with a focus in product management. Prior to the I School, Harim worked at UCSF and Biotech as an maternal and child health researcher with a focus on reproductive health, environmental health, neurological development and oncology. . She is a previous Berkeley graduate, having earned a B.A in peace and conflict studies and global public health minor in 2018.
“My journey, from battling socio-economic hardships in a low-income household to navigating the nuanced challenges of being an Asian-American woman minority, has instilled in me a profound understanding and empathy of the struggles faced by marginalized communities,” said Harim. “Justice is essential to removing barriers to ensure equitable access for students who are not set up to succeed in the already rigged journey we take.”
At UCSF, Harim co-founded the DEI Mentorship Program, where she helped connect recipient and minority community college students with internships at a prestigious medical research institution. She also serves as a peer counselor for Exhale Pro-Voice's textline, where she provides support to marginalized communities post-abortion. “Rooted in advocacy, empathy, and a commitment to serve, it is an honor to harness my personal experiences to drive actionable DEIBJ initiatives as a student representative,” she shared.
These students serve as advocates, actively addressing the needs and concerns of both current and potential students at the I School within their respective degree programs. Their focus is especially dedicated to individuals from backgrounds traditionally marginalized in higher education and fields like information, data science, and cybersecurity. This includes, but is not restricted to, Black, Chicanx/Latinx, Native American, and Alaska Native students, first-generation college students, undocumented students, LGBTQ+ students, individuals with disabilities, women in STEM fields, and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Roxanne Pifer, Director of Admissions and Diversity Recruitment remarked, “I am so excited to have the opportunity with the I School DEIBJ Student Representatives this academic year! These students really take the ownership of representing and championing the needs and interests of each other while paying special attention to communities that are often overlooked. This group of representatives is engaged and passionate about making a positive impact, which is so special to be a part of.”