Graduate Ambassadors

Follow the iSchool Graduate Ambassadors on Instagram, Facebook, TwitterLinkedInReddit, Weibo, and WhatsApp (Ambassadors At iSchool).

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

Mary Arbor

Mary Arbor, MS/LIS student
I have really enjoyed all of my courses and love the flexibility to choose classes that match my interests and schedule. I was born in San Diego, California, but have lived in Washington D.C. for 10 years. I received a BA in philosophy and women's studies from George Washington University in 2015. After working as a 7th and 8th grade English teacher, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a librarian. I currently work as a library associate in a school library that serves over 1000 students grades PK-12. My academic interests include intellectual freedom, censorship, Critical Race Theory, and disability justice. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about the program!

Sushanth Babu

Sushanth Babu, MS/IM studentI am from Bangalore, India, and studied telecommunication engineering at BMS College of Engineering. I worked as a strategy consultant and visual analytics analyst at Deloitte, and witnessed how data-driven solutions increased business impact and performance. The iSchool’s path in data science and information consulting was a perfect match for me. UIUC offers opportunities through the Research Park and student-run organizations, which are enticing to any student hoping to pursue a professional degree. I hope to use my new skills to make immediate impacts in the field of data science, information consulting, and project management.

Palash Badjatya

Palash Badjatya, MS/IM student 
I'm from Indore, India, where I pursued my bachelor’s degree in computer science. I worked as a technical lead for a couple of years before joining U of I. I chose the iSchool because of its outstanding personnel and flexibility. My inclinations lie in data, information representation, and organization. UIUC gave me many chances on both individual and career fronts: I participated in a co-op and have been working full-time as a data engineer since January '22. I also interned at ZS over the summer. The openness in letting students work with companies to gain practical knowledge is what I like the most about the curriculum. 

Neha Bhujbal

Neha Bhujbal, MS/IM student 
I am from Mumbai, India. I earned my bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering from Mumbai University. I pursued a short stint as a business analyst at Ketto — a medical crowdfunding firm, which piqued my interest in business intelligence and analytics. I joined the iSchool because of its curriculum flexibility, perfect blend of analytics and consulting, and extensive learning opportunities at Research Park. Currently, I am working on a healthcare informatics project with a PhD student. I look forward to leveraging the power of information to create a positive social impact.

Yi Chook

Yi Chook, MS/IM student 
After graduating from UIUC in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and minor in business and informatics, I worked as an account manager. My minor spurred my interested in technology and data. I want to use data to tell a story and develop strategic plans. I realized I needed a deeper analytical and technical background to implement any solutions using information drawn from data. That is why I chose this program. I can customize the curriculum to match my career interest. My hope is to have a career in business intelligence/analytics.

Margot Cuddihy

Margot Cuddihy, MS/LIS student 
I completed my B.M.A. in Bassoon Performance and International Studies at the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA), where I fell in love with library work. I interned as a junior fellow at the Library of Congress, where I worked to increase the discoverability of music materials created by/about blind and visually impaired musicians. I am a graduate assistant at the Music and Performing Arts Library and serve on the executive boards for the iSchool’s American Library Association and Special Libraries Association chapters. The iSchool provides its students with so many resources for success!

Shruti Deekshitula

Shruti Deekshitula, MS/IM student
I've always loved telling people and businesses stories woven out of data. Having worked as a data analyst in aviation for four years, after my bachelor’s degree in computer science, I wanted to explore further in the field and hence, I joined the iSchool. I am working as a research assistant for Illinois Water Survey. The iSchool's curriculum matches to my career interest and gives me the flexibility to tailor my degree with courses of my own choosing. UIUC provides a wide range of opportunities to its students both at the personal and career front.

Mandar Dhande

Mandar Dhande, MS/IM student
I am from Bharat, and earned 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 the iSchool because of its flexible curriculum and exceptional professors. I am working with BP at the Research Park as a data science & analytics intern. I learned so much here but one of the best is to "be kind-hearted and help everyone" and take inspiration from everyone out there. Everybody has so much to offer. 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!

Angela Finochio

Angela Finochio, MS/LIS student 
Reading, teaching, and art are my passions. It was my daughter’s birth, and our time spent learning and creating, that inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming a children’s librarian. I completed my undergraduate degree in footwear and accessories design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where I currently work as a classroom assistant. My family and I live on Long Island. We frequent the beach and spend lots of time outdoors. I hope to share my experience and encourage all to realize that, with the right mindset and support, it is possible to achieve your goals.

Sarah Rebecca Velazquez Gaglio

Sarah Rebecca Gaglio, MS/LIS student
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, I moved to Chicago eight years ago for graduate school. I have a bachelor’s in religion, a graduate degree in women’s studies and gender studies, and worked for six years in nonprofit fundraising and volunteer coordination. Having worked in libraries previously, I decided to pursue an MS/LIS to make my way back into research libraries. I am one of the CARLI Building Diversity graduate assistants, working in libraries at the University of Illinois Chicago and Loyola University Chicago. Outside of school, I spend my time watching movies, taking long strolls in cemeteries, and playing table-top RPGs. 

Cordiah Hayes

Cordiah Hayes, MS/LIS student
I was born and raised in Chicago. After earning my BA in communications from Northern Illinois University in 2015, I found a fulfilling role working first as a cyber navigator and then as a teen library associate for the Chicago Public Library. I applied to UIUC because of its outstanding LEEP program, strong emphasis on diversity, and support of graduate students. I have been named a Spectrum Scholar, in addition to being a member of the American Library Association (ALA) and its affiliates YALSA, PLA, ILA, and BCALA. As an ambassador, I hope to inspire others to appreciate and understand the value of librarianship. 

Manasi Joshi

Manasi Joshi, MS/IM student
I spent four years as a data analyst with Accenture after graduating from Pune University with a bachelor's in information technology. I pursued a master's program to continue exploring the always-changing field of data. I chose the iSchool for its comprehensive curriculum and the opportunities for personal and career growth. With the technical skills I've acquired from the courses and the advisors' ongoing support and feedback, I secured an internship with Lumen. I previously worked as a research assistant with the Information Quality Lab and am now a data analyst at UI – Deloitte Foundation Center.

Gaurav Kalwani, MS/IM student 
As an international student from Indore, India, I grew up in a generation that has seen multiple technological advancements. Hence, I was bitten by the technology bug early on. This paved my path to join iSchool to learn about the working and implementation of applications such as data analytics, information system design, and methodologies driving the informational insights leading business operations. The flexible coursework allows me to study and implement my learning at the same time. Currently, I work as an intern at AGCO in Research Park, as well as a lab assistant and proctor at CBTF Labs in Grainger College of Engineering.

Drishti Kwatra

Drishti Kwatra, MS/IM student
I am a first-year student from Mumbai, India. Before joining the U of I, I worked as a research analyst for two years at GEP Worldwide and got introduced to the world of consulting and market intelligence. The reason I chose the U of I is because I had the flexibility to choose any courses I needed and create my own pathway. Moreover, the U of I Research Park provides a lot of different job and learning opportunities for students. I am currently working as a course assistant for Gies College of Business. My main interests lie in data science and analytics and knowledge management.

Chia-Yi Lee

Chia-Yi (Joy) Lee, MS/IM student 
I am a second-year graduate student from Taiwan. Prior studying at U of I, I work as an engineer for two years that gave me opportunities to explore my interest in data and analytics for better decision-making. Therefore, I joined the iSchool for a variety of courses that match my interests and can sharpen my skills. I really enjoy the time here and want to seize every opportunity I can. My interest is inclined toward cloud computing, data analytics, and consulting.

Jou Lee

Jou Lee, MS/LIS student
I am a first-year international graduate student from Taiwan. Being an international student in the program, I am enthusiastic about supporting international applicants during the application process, pre-arrival, and your campus life. While pursuing BA in library and information science at National Taiwan University, I found my interest in solving problems using data and information. Currently, I am focusing on business analysis, knowledge management, and Project Management. Since I am taking a variety of classes, I would be happy to share my experiences to assist future students with similar pathways.

Jun Liu

Jun Liu, MS/IM student
I am from Wuhan, China. I worked as an IT consultant in an artificial intelligence company for one year. I love science fiction and aerial photography, so I am interested in cutting-edge applications such as augmented reality, blockchain, and Web3. The MS/IM program has a comprehensive curriculum and flexible structure, equipping students with the tools for exploring the next generation of technologies. I'm happy that my interests fit with what I'm learning, and I hope to share my experience with you.

Ketan Mahajan

Ketan Mahajan, MS/IM studentMy journey to the iSchool began when I started coding in my junior year as an aeronautical engineering major. My love for coding and technology eventually led me toward software engineering, data science, and machine learning. This program has efficiently familiarized me with the technical aspect while also letting me explore new topics where I might generate interests. My interests lie in solving problems with data using various techniques like machine learning and analytics. I currently work at ROKWIRE as a technical writer where I am exposed to open-source community.

Wardah Mohammed

Wardah Mohammed, MS/LIS student
I earned my bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago. I studied bioethics and healthcare ethics, particularly in reproductive care, and coursework studying the modern revolutionary tradition and critical philosophy of race. I work with The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence as their policy intern and have earned a domestic violence certification. The iSchool offers many courses, specifically interesting to me are archival preservation and data analytics and management. I hope to grow as a learner, and be of service in providing communities access to information and cultivating spaces for others with others.

Uyen Nguyen

Uyen Nguyen, MS/LIS student 
I am an international student from Vietnam. However, I finished my undergrad in Baltimore, where I majored in French transnational studies, international relations, and visual material culture. I’m interested in making information and knowledge more accessible and equitable, and how the library can be an agent for social justice. The iSchool provides bountiful academic and professional opportunities, with great resources and staff. Currently, I am also a GA in the Teaching, Learning, and Academic Support Unit for the Main Library where we collaborate with our wonderful librarians to support student success.

Akshari Nidugala

Akshari Nidugala, MS/IM student
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. I realized the need and a keen interest to develop a stronghold on skills pertaining to 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. The iSchool offers a wide range of educational and career opportunities to students.

Kalyn Nowlan

Kalyn Nowlan, MS/LIS student
I was born in Champaign-Urbana and earned my BA in English from UIUC in 2021. After spending so much time in our tremendous campus libraries, however, I slowly realized that I was interested in science librarianship. This fall I began my MS/LIS, working as a graduate assistant in the Funk ACES library. There, I assist students, collaborate with other GAs, develop online materials and serve as exhibits coordinator. I couldn’t be happier as an iSchool student! Outside of the library, I am a coffee snob and a travel fanatic who loves to play board games with friends, spend time outdoors and binge historical documentaries.  

Spring Olivares

Spring Olivares, MS/LIS student
I am from Baltimore, Maryland, and I am a graduate assistant with the iSchool Help Desk. Before coming to Champaign, I was working on my undergraduate degree in English from Florida Gulf Coast University. I chose UIUC for the flexible coursework and access to resources in the archive concentration. I’ve always had a deep love for literature and libraries, so I wanted to combine these interests into a career. I collect antiques, write, craft, and play video games. I am excited to delve into the library field and discover what makes them integral parts of society as well as vital to human connection. 

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. 

Rachel Riffe

Rachel Riffe, MS/LIS student  
I am passionate about streamlining information access for STEM professionals and improving patient understanding on findind quality medical resources. I currently hold dual graduate appointments with Funk ACES Library and the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. I had a summer internship with Forge Biologics, a gene therapy CDMO and research lab. I participated in a range of self-guided projects that included plain-language web resource development, leading a lecture on open access databases, and developing data models. MSLIS students can go in so many amazing directions, and the iSchool's curriculum provides an excellent foundation for your career!

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 from Bombay, India with experience as a business analyst project manager in the financial services industry. Working on a multitude of system use cases helped me realize the significance of managing information around us. I pursued my bachelors in electronics and telecommunications engineering from University of Mumbai and have secured distinction. The iSchool offers the perfect blend of data science, analytics, and consulting courses that I wanted. I 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. During an internship with an e-commerce firm in Croatia, I discovered my interest in the data analytics field. To get more expertise, 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 excited to engage in conversations about emerging topics in the field of data science.  

Saud Shaikh

Saud Shaikh, MS/IM student
I am from Mumbai, India. It’s been wonderful here with many interesting courses, fun solo and group activities, representing the IM program both as a representative and an iSchool ambassador, networking at career fairs, and last but not least – cooking and hosting events! Currently, I am working as an advanced analytics intern at AGCO, here at Research Park. My experience with AGCO has required me to exercise my skills in Python, Tableau, AWS Services, and project management! Moving forward, I aim to build on the experience I have gained at the iSchool combined with AGCO and shape my learning.

Divya Tantri

Divya Tantri, MS/IM student
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.

Gabriela Vieira da Cunha Prates

Gabriela Vieira da Cunha Prates, MS/LIS student
I am an on-campus LIS student from Brazil. I attended undergrad at UDESC and graduated in 2018 with a degree in Library Science with a certificate in Information Management. I currently hold an assistantship with the iSchool Help Desk. In my free time, I enjoy reading historical fiction, watching an endless list of TV shows, and being with my family (even if only through technology). After graduation, I hope to be able to start a project for building a library in an underserved community back at Florianópolis, Brazil.