iSchool Ambassadors

iSchool Ambassadors are a group of students dedicated to promoting the mission and vision of the iSchool at Illinois. These students work alongside Recruitment & Admissions and Student Affairs staff, serving as liaisons to prospective and incoming students. They also are valuable resources for sharing the iSchool experience and connecting students who have similar interests. Follow iSchool Ambassadors on Instagram, Facebook, TwitterLinkedInReddit, WeChat, and WhatsApp.

Schedule an appointment with an MS/IM ambassador or MS/LIS ambassador.

Joshua Altshuler

Joshua Altshuler, MS/LIS student
I am a second-year student from North Barrington, Illinois. As an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, I passionately enjoyed my studies in history and Jewish studies. Following graduation, I served for two years as an Education Fellow for the Institute of Southern Jewish life based in Jackson, Mississippi. My work inspired me to search for a fulfilling graduate program connected to community support and empowering learning and literacy. At the iSchool, I work as a graduate assistant at the Center for Children's Books, assisting with research related to youth services and literature. I am always excited to engage in conversations about reference and instruction, information behavior, and the diversity and readership of comics.

Sushanth Babu

Sushanth Babu, MS/IM student
I am from Bangalore, India, and completed my bachelor's in telecommunication engineering from BMS College of Engineering in 2018. I've worked as a strategy consultant and visual analytics analyst at Deloitte for the past three years where I witnessed how data-driven solutions resulted in increased business impact and performance. Considering that the iSchool provides me courses related to data science and information consulting, the MS/IM course was a perfect match for me. UIUC has a lot of opportunities through the Research Park and several student-run organizations which are enticing to any student hoping to pursue a professional degree. I hope to expand my horizons in the field of data science, information consulting, and project management. I wish to put all the skills I learn into use by creating immediate impacts in the IT industry.

Nikita Nitin Bangale

Nikita Nitin Bangale, MS/IM student

I hail from Mumbai, India. I am a computer engineer graduate from Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, University of Mumbai. I have worked as a software engineer in Accenture. My engineering degree along with my professional experience sparked my interest in the power of data and the intricacies of the world of analytics. This motivated me to learn and dive deep into the track of data and business analytics which eventually led me to pursue the MS/IM degree offered by iSchool at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. I have learnt a lot since I joined this course and would love to share this experience and guide other students so that they too can have a smooth and enjoyable experience at the iSchool. 
 

Sarthak Bhingarde

Sarthak Bhingarde, MS/IM student
I grew up in Mumbai, India where I completed my bachelor's degree from the University of Mumbai. After graduating, I worked at Teradata, where my interest in data science and analytics grew a lot and I decided to pursue my master’s degree from the U of I. The iSchool has a very diverse curriculum and has also predefined tracks to help you take up courses that will propel you to achieve your goals. I am inclined towards data science and analytics and see myself working and growing in this field. The U of I, also has opportunities ranging from working at the Research Park, Business Intelligence group, and many more that will help you gain professional experience. The opportunities at the university are countless and I am delighted to be a part of it.

Dhwani Desai

Dhwani Desai, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India. I earned my Bachelor of Engineering in information technology from Mumbai University. Before coming to the U of I , I worked as a system engineer in a software company for one year. I chose the iSchool at Illinois because of its flexible course curriculum, exceptional teaching staff for data analytics and consulting as well as employment opportunities. My interests mainly lie in business intelligence, data visualization, consulting, and data mining. 

Vedant Desai

Vedant Desai, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India. I earned my bachelor's degree in electronics engineering from Mumbai University. Prior to joining the U of I, I worked as a full stack developer for 3.5 years. After learning the nuances of software development, I wanted to venture into the data science and analytics track. I chose the U of I because of its pathway offerings and extensive optional course offerings as well as the Research Park, which provides career defining opportunities to students. Since joining the School in Spring 2021, I have been working as a GA and continue to participate in the plethora of opportunities offered by the U of I.

Mandar Dhande

Mandar Dhande, MS/IM student
I am from Bharat, did my bachelor’s degree in computer science from Rajiv Gandhi Technical University. Prior to joining the U of I, I worked as a business intelligence intern at NxdT. I chose U of I because of its flexible curriculum, exceptional teaching staff. I am currently working with bp at the Research Park as a data science & analytics intern under the spark program. I learned so many things since spring when I joined U of I. One of the best things is" be kind-hearted and help everyone" and take inspiration from everyone out there; everybody has so much to offer and learn from every step as you move forward in life. 
 

Anjani Shivani Dhavala

Anjani Shivani Dhavala, MS/IM student
I hail from the city of Destiny in India and have graduated from GITAM University with a bachelor's degree in computer science. Post this beautiful journey, I worked as a decision scientist in Mu Sigma where I dwelled deep into data and understood the magic it could create. I chose U of I for its intense yet flexible curriculum that would let me explore into my fields of interest like product management, consulting and business intelligence. I am currently working as a course assistant for iMBA 547 and can only say that U of I is filled with opportunities and is the best place to be at!
 

Sashi Donepudi

Sashi Donepudi, MS/IM student
I am from Hyderabad, India. After earning my bachelor's degree in the field of computer science engineering from GITAM University, I worked as an application developer at Accenture for 3 years. I love working with data and want to expand my expertise in the field of data analytics so decided to join iSchool at UIUC for its exceptional reputation and flexible curriculum as well as the immense internship opportunities available at the University's Research Park. There are also many reputed student organizations that help graduate students gain professional experience while still pursuing their master's. My interests lie in data analytics, business intelligence, and machine learning.
 

Niharika Gurjar

Niharika Gurjar, MS/IM student
I am from Pune, India. I earned my bachelor's degree in information technology from Pune University. Before joining the U of I, I worked with KPMG as a risk consultant and a cybersecurity analyst. I love playing with data and developing secured systems. I chose the iSchool because of its wide range of courses and flexible curriculum. The School offers courses that strike a perfect balance between technical and managerial subjects. I am currently working with AGCO in the Research Park as a cybersecurity analyst and see myself in the field of analytics or consulting.

Amanda He

Amanda He, MS/LIS student
I am a second year LEEP student and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I grew up in San Francisco, California and completed my bachelor’s in biology with a minor in chemistry at Kenyon College. While at Kenyon, I worked as a reference desk intern and a microbiology research assistant. Following graduation, I have worked in a variety of different fields, which included (but were not limited to) working as a research associate at UCSF/Gladstone Institutes, a facilitator at the Museum of Science and Industry, and a cataloging assistant at Loyola University Chicago. The latter of which inspired me to pursue library school. Since starting the program, I have been promoted my current position as an e-resources associate at Loyola University Chicago. I am a 2020 Spectrum Scholar and am a member of the iSchool Students of Color. I am interested in continuing to work in academic libraries, particularly in the areas of technical services and/or science librarianship. Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I’ll be happy to chat. 

Teja Inuganti

Teja Inuganti, MS/IM student
I am from Visakhapatnam, India, and earned my bachelor's degree in computer science from GITAM University. After graduation, I worked as a cybersecurity analyst for over 2 years and realized that cybersecurity and data science are rapidly emerging areas. I am focusing on applying data science to prevent, detect, and remediate expanding and evolving cybersecurity threats. I chose the IM program because we can tailor-make our degree. I am currently working on a project that predicts specific trends of the stock market prices in real time using machine learning and predictive analytics. I work as an analyst at Administrative Information Technology Services. My interests lie in machine learning, threat intelligence, malware analysis, and data governance.

Bhairavi Jadhav

Bhairavi Jadhav, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India. After earning my bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, I was working as an ETL developer for over three years. While working with data, I was interested in growing my skills in the data analytics domain. I chose UIUC because of the highly experienced faculty, wide range of courses it provides and the opportunity to customize your course. There are tremendous opportunities to gain work experience: by doing internships in the Research Park, working as research assistants, or even working in highly esteemed student organizations. I currently work as a back-end developer in the disruption lab. My interests lie in data analytics, business intelligence and consulting.

Jeremy Kearse

Jeremy Kearse, MS/LIS student
I am a second-year MS/LIS student at the iSchool. I am from Atlanta, Georgia, where I earned my BS in computer science from Morehouse College. As an undergraduate student, I served as a fourth grade para-professional teacher over my last two years. At the iSchool, I am a graduate assistant serving in data management and data processing roles. After completion of the program, I plan to work in higher education as an adjunct professor while working primarily in a data management position. My interests are data management, education, and leadership. I am also a GEM Consortium Associate Fellow, which has helped fund my graduate studies.  

Sonam Kumari

Sonam Kumari, MS/IM student
I am a MS/IM student from Jamshedpur, India. I have earned my bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology. Prior joining the U of I, I have worked as an application development analyst for three-and-a half years at Accenture where I got the opportunity to handle a lot of data and information & interact with clients on day to day basis. While working at Accenture I realized that I want to learn more about data analysis and business intelligence, and this encouraged me to choose the U of I. The courses provided by the iSchool along with the number of electives are aligned with my interest as well as the Research Park, which provides career defining opportunities. I have joined the iSchool in fall 2021 and am willing and excited to participate in the plethora of opportunities offered by the U of I. 
 

Linyao Li

Linyao Li, MS/IM student
I am a second-year MS/IM student at the iSchool. I earned my bachelor’s degree in information management and information system from Northeastern University in China. During college, I have participated in a project that uses natural language processing technology and data analysis techniques to improve consumers’ decision efficiency of hotel selection based on previous user reviews, and published a paper with the funding of the National Natural Science Foundation of China. During this process, I discovered my interest in information sciences, and determined my career goal in the subsequent two internships as a data analyst and decided to continue studying information sciences at the graduate level. The reason I chose iSchool is that it provides multiple pathways, allowing us to explore our interests in depth.

s.g. maldonado-vélez

S.G. Maldonado-Vélez (they/them), MS/LIS student
I am from Palomas, Puerto Rico but grew up in Kirksville, Missouri where I went to undergrad at Truman State University. I studied creative writing and comparative literature, with a special interest in how poetry stemming from the Surrealist tradition can explore the difficult relationships queer people have with gender and sexuality. In 2017 I moved to Urbana, Illinois to be a candidate in the poetry MFA program here. During my time in that program, I began to realize that the literary world entrenched in academia is not a productive place for me or many other BIPOC individuals. I made a list of the careers outside the formal walls of academia that I was most interested in pursuing and public librarianship was at the top. After having worked at several summer camps and currently working in the Spurlock Museum's education unit, I know that teen librarianship is where I would like to end up because I truly value what we can learn from and help teach young people who are a part of this incredibly fast-changing world. I am especially interested in helping young people find ways to communicate their interests or discoveries to their communities, local and global. This includes podcasting, zine-making, writing, and other forms of art.

Thashma Nellira

Thashma Nellira, MS/IM student
I am from Coorg, India. I have a bachelor’s in computer and information sciences from Nitte University Bangalore. I worked as a software engineer before joining the UIUC. Currently, I work with the Rokwire Org for API development and analysis. I chose the iSchool as it offers a customized curriculum and a great set of faculty. I see myself pursuing a career in data and business analytics. 

Akshari Nidugala

Akshari Nidugala, MS/IM student
I am a first-year student currently enrolled in the MS/IM program. I have a bachelors’ degree in information science and engineering from NIE Mysore. Post-graduation, I worked as a business analyst in the retail domain at Shell India. During my two-year stint, I realized the need and a keen interest to develop a stronghold on skillsets pertaining to the industry. My interests lie in the area of consulting, project management, data science and analytics. The iSchool has an immensely flexible curriculum that perfectly matches my career interest, empowering me to own my course; and hence this was one of the reasons behind joining UIUC. UIUC has a wide range of opportunities and has a lot to offer to students on the career front. I hope to pursue every opportunity during my time here and hope to enhance my professional knowledge and skillset. 
 

Aine O'Connor

Aine O'Connor, MS/LIS student
I am originally from South Bend, Indiana, but spent the last four years at Hope College, where I majored in English and history and worked as a resident assistant and in the archives. Now at the iSchool, I work as a graduate assistant in the Undergraduate Library; in that position, I get to teach undergrads about the library, meet with students to discuss their research, and work on a variety of library projects. I adore my job! When I'm not at class or working at the library, I love to spend time at UIUC’s Newman Center or try new restaurants in town. I also do a little bit of my own research, particularly relating to digital pedagogy, the role of vocation in librarianship, and the study of serendipity.

Anish Pai

Anish Pai, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India, and earned my bachelor's degree in information technology from Mumbai University. I worked as a senior analyst at Capgemini for over two years before deciding to join the iSchool to expand my professional skillset and dive deeper into the field of data science and analytics. I chose the iSchool because of its strong faculty profile, flexible course curriculum, and the opportunities offered by the Research Park. The U of I has a plethora of student organizations which means that finding organizations related to one's field of interest is not difficult. My interests lie in data science, analytics, business intelligence and consulting.

Ritika Pateriya

Ritika Pateriya, MS/IM student
I am a first-year MS/IM student from India. After completing my bachelor's in computer science from RGPV university, I worked as a system engineer at Tata Consultancy Services for 2.5 years. I became interested in exploring data and analytics field further during my tenure at TCS and decided to pursue an advanced degree. I choose the U of I since it offers a flexible curriculum that lets me tailor-make a degree of my own. Also, the student organizations providing professional experiences and the plethora of internship opportunities available to the students at the Research Park make U of I a great choice. I am excited to be a part of this deemed University and look forward to the opportunities here. My interest areas lie in data analytics, business intelligence, and machine learning. 

Parth Patel

Parth Patel, MS/IM student
Hello, I am from Mumbai, India. I have a bachelor of engineering degree in Information technology from Mumbai University. After graduation, I worked at Larsen and Toubro infotech for around three years as an SAP ABAP consultant and developer. Since my undergraduate, I was intrigued by data analytics and deep learning after I did a project in that domain. Hence, to pursue my passion and interest, I joined the U of I’s iSchool. I chose U of I mainly because of its flexible course curriculum and the myriad of opportunities available at the research park where one can apply their learnings real time and gain corporate exposure while still studying. I aspire for data analyst or data scientist roles after my post-graduation, and I feel that the iSchool’s Information Management program is the best fit for my profile and a foundation to achieve my career goals. 
 

Neha Pathak

Neha Pathak, MS/IM student
I am from Indore, India. Before joining U of I, I have four years of experience working at different positions: compliance executive, assistant manager, compliance officer and business data analyst. My interest lies in managerial positions like product manager. Currently, I am a consultant at Business Intelligence Group (BIG), graduate student presentative at Illini Union Board and course assistant for Gies College of Business. Apart from a flexible curriculum and experienced faculty, University has countless opportunities for students belonging to a different field, having different passions and skills. I would say UIUC is a complete package to learn, earn, grow and have fun. 

Vishesh Akshat Pathak

Vishesh Akshat Pathak, MS/IM student
I’m from Madhya Pradesh, India. Whilst pursuing my undergraduate program in computer science and engineering, I explored multiple career pathways. During my internship in Honk Kong, I realized I am interested in working with data, and provide strategies to clients to utilize that in an efficient way. Due to the liberal coursework, state of the art mentorship opportunities, I selected UIUC as my graduate school. I was able to be exposed to wide variety of domains including consulting, data analytics, and similar topics in the same avenue. Currently I am working as a teaching assistant for the iMBA program, representative of the diversity committee, and operations supervisor at the Illini Union. 

Cheyenne Puetz

Cheyenne Puetz, MS/LIS student
I am in my second year at the iSchool, and I grew up in a super small town in Iowa (it's about 15 minutes from the Field of Dreams!). I attended undergrad at the University of Iowa and graduated in 2019 with a degree in English with a certificate in writing. After graduation I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, and worked at a property management company for a year before coming to the iSchool. I currently work as a graduate assistant with the iSchool Help Desk, and I regularly volunteer at The Urbana Free Library and Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners. In my free time I enjoy reading for fun, baking, rewatching my favorite TV shows, and spending time with my friends and family. After graduation I hope to become a youth services librarian, and my current interests include working with youth of all ages, media and early literacy, and community engagement and outreach.

Ritesh Rajput

Ritesh Rajput, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India. I earned my bachelor's degree from Mumbai University. Before joining the U of I, I worked as a data analyst for two and half years where I realized my growing interest in the field of data analytics. The art of converting numbers to narratives has always appealed to me. I chose the iSchool at Illinois because of its flexible course curriculum, strong faculty profile, and the opportunities offered by the Research Park. Currently I’m working as course assistant at Gies College of Business. My interest lie in data science and analytics, machine learning and business intelligence. 

Hina Ramnani

Hina Ramnani, MS/IM student
I am from India and earned my bachelor's from Boston University, double majoring in economics and psychology. Prior to joining the MS/IM program, I worked as a performance analyst at a staffing firm in Boston. During my tenure there, I realized my growing interest in data analytics and related areas such as data visualization and human-computer interactions. I decided to pursue an MS/IM as it allows students the flexibility to explore various strata within data science and analytics, preparing them well to confidently return into the professional world with valuable skills. Since joining in Fall 2020, I have worked as a graduate assistant for CS598, and continue to delve into a wide range of opportunities available at UIUC.

Aaditya Rao

Aaditya Rao, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India and currently a first-year graduate student at the iSchool MS/IM program. My undergraduate courses and internships fostered my curiosity to explore the field of data science and analytics, and the flexibility offered by iSchool propels me to do so. In analytics, I see a versatile and pivotal vocation, yet its potential of generating insights through the fusion of logic and creativity intrigues me the most. Additionally, living in the university town of Champaign is an added benefit due to its interdependent community in academia, sports, arts and cultural events which provides me the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and build good relationships. My other interests include soccer, sketching, videography, data visualization and sports analytics. 
 

Saurav Rathod

Saurav Rathod, MS/IM student
I am originally from Mumbai, India. Having earned my bachelor of engineering in information technology from Mumbai University, I have had the opportunity to professionally work with a tech startup as a project manager. My interests lie in data analytics, image processing, and information consulting. I believe the MS/IM program at iSchool will help me foster my interest in the field of data and cater to my growth as a professional in the information domain. I believe that working with data is no lesser than making art; data is art. Apart from this, I enjoy meeting new people, learning about what backgrounds they come from and what their interests lie in. I believe in the fact that we help each other grow, professionally and spiritually. 

Cassidy Russell

Cassidy Russell, MS/LIS student
I am in my second semester in the iSchool LEEP program. I’ve moved around a lot, but currently live in Chicago where I work as a theater director, improv teacher, actor, and visual artist. I have a BFA in printmaking from the University of Notre Dame and an MFA in printmaking from Savannah College of Art and Design. I decided to pursue an MS/LIS degree at the iSchool because of interests in storytelling and the stories we choose to tell, in creating artistic spaces where people feel comfortable being vulnerable, in information equity, and in literacy and language preservation. 

Rachana Sarvankar

Rachana Sarvankar, MS/IM student
I am Rachana Sarvankar from Bombay, India. I have three years of work experience as a business analyst project manager in the financial services industry. Working on a multitude of system use cases has helped me realize the significance of managing information around us. Apart from leading key digital initiatives in the organization, I have also gained sound understanding of Salesforce CRM Enterprise architecture and learned key stakeholder management skills. I pursued my bachelors in electronics and telecommunications engineering from University of Mumbai and have secured distinction. My primary reason for pursuing UIUC MS/IM is the perfect blend of data science, analytics and consulting courses that it offers I am aiming for my career in a consulting-based role with relevant technical skillset and UIUC MS/IM coursework caters to these needs. Post joining the university this fall, I have been able to secure a course assistant position and am excited to explore tons of opportunities that the university has to offer. 

Aradhya Seth

Aradhya Seth, MS/IM student
I am from Bhopal, India. I earned my bachelor's degree in information technology from Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in mid-2021. As an undergrad student, I interned at an e-commerce firm in Croatia where I discovered my interest in the field of data analytics. To get more expertise in this field I decided to join iSchool as it offered an excellent blend of knowledge management and data analysis whilst also providing an amazing opportunity to choose the subjects of my interest with a flexible curriculum. I am always excited to engage in conversations about emerging topics in the field of data science. 

Jeet Shah

Jeet Shah, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India. I have earned my bachelor’s in engineering in the field of information technology from Mumbai University. I always had a liking for the client-facing and business-related jobs, so after my bachelor’s I worked as a business development associate at India’s biggest ed-tech company and then as a business analyst at a product-based IT company. I soon realized my field of liking which is business intelligence and consulting which is why I chose U of I as it has a flexible course curriculum and excellent job opportunities. 

Saud Shaikh

Saud Shaikh, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India, and earned my bachelor of engineering in electronics and telecommunication from Mumbai University. I am elated to be a part of the U of I for the enriching exposure it offers. I decided to join the School of Information Sciences because of its strong faculty profile, flexible course curriculum, career fairs, and the opportunities offered by the research park. Currently, I am a course assistant for the iMBA program at the GIES College of Business. My interests lie in data analytics, business intelligence, and consulting. I am looking forward to leveraging my undergrad experience with organizations to serve as an iSchool Ambassador.

Divya Tantri

Divya Tantri, MS/IM student
I am a first year MS/IM student at the iSchool. Prior to joining the U of I, I worked as a marketing analyst for over two years at Cisco Systems after receiving my bachelor’s in computer science engineering in Bangalore, India. Since the concept of problem-solving has been the common underlying theme through which I see the world around me, it was only natural for me to choose a career in Analytics. I chose the MS/IM program at the University of Illinois due to its flexible curriculum and the reputation of the program. I currently work as a graduate research assistant at the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research. My interests lie in data science, analytics, and visualization.

Tejas Tumakuru

Tejas Tumakuru, MS/IM student
I am from Bangalore, India. I earned my bachelor of engineering in mechanical engineering from B.M.S College of Engineering. Before joining the U of I, I worked as a software engineer for two years. My work experience got me interested in data science, I chose U of I because of the data science and analytics pathway, exceptional faculty, and the research park that opens many doors to the students. My interest is inclined towards deep learning and natural language processing.

Olivia Warren

Olivia Warren, MS/LIS student
After receiving my BA of Secondary English Education, I spent three years teaching English to middle and high school students. Currently, I am a program coordinator for the 4-H Youth Development program at the Extension office in Decatur, working with kids to help them be the best selves they can be. I chose the iSchool because of its flexibility of online classes that work with my schedule and the support I get from the faculty and staff. I began my MS/LIS journey as a LEEP student in 2019 and have aspirations of being a public librarian serving my community in the best way I can. My interests include working with youth and planning programs revolving around media literacy, STEM, and the arts in order to help them achieve their goals and express their individuality.

Anna Wiegand

Anna Wiegand, MS/LIS student
I'm in my second-year at the iSchool. I grew up north of Indianapolis and received my bachelor's from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. After graduation, I interned at a refugee resettlement organization and spent two sessions as a legislative assistant for the Indiana House of Representatives. I then worked for over a year in public branch libraries in both Colorado and Florida. I also have experience working with children in school, camp, and library settings, and I hope to continue to work in public libraries and with youth after graduate school. Currently, I am the graduate assistant for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. 

Emily Zerrenner

Emily Zerrenner, MS/LIS student
I am from Eau Claire, Michigan, and attended Grand Valley State University (GVSU) for my BS in writing with a minor in LGBT studies. While at GVSU, I worked as a lead writing consultant and lead user experience student assistant in the Mary Idema Pew Library. This led to my interest in academic librarianship and a passion for interacting with students and patrons, as well as studying the physical space of a library. I worked as a copywriting intern at an ad agency and as a page at my local public library in Eau Claire, which also made me interested in public librarianship. I am currently a graduate assistant in Research and Information Services.