Spring 2023 Commencement: Celebrating 7 Graduates from the School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences

With graduation celebrations underway this week, seven notable School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences graduates share their next chapters, relive favorite moments, and dispense some words of wisdom on what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown.

Annie Aaker MA’23

Annie Aaker MA’23

Program: Library & Information Studies

My future professional plans are: I plan to stay in Madison and continue working at Madison Public Library as a circulation page and as a Bubbler Artist in the Neighborhood this summer (art programming with kids and families)! After the summer, I’m going to stay on as a page and continue looking out for youth services opportunities in the area.

My favorite project: Was the first project I did as an MLIS student, creating a children’s program from scratch in LIS 772–Library Services to Children & Young Adults. It was the first time I’d ever gotten to make my own idea come to life for a kids’ program. It made me even more sure that youth services librarianship was a good fit for me.

How my program helped me grow personally and professionally: One meaningful experience for me was the practicum this program requires. During my practicum at Madison Public Library, I was able to partner with some experienced, inspiring youth services librarians and see what it looks like when youth programs take a more organic shape—being flexible with your expectations is key!—and to work on a really cool, forward-thinking project regarding equity for youth patrons in the library. Both of these helped me grow professionally—just connecting with those librarians was impactful, but also seeing different styles of librarianship and the complex inner workings of public libraries made an impression on me. Personally, the experience showed me that I love working in youth services and that by becoming a YS librarian, I can support and amplify the youth voices we don’t hear often enough.

Ruhani Arora BS’23

Ruhani Arora BS’23

Majors: Data Science, Information Science*
Certificate: Computer Sciences

My future professional plans are: After graduating, I will be working as a Rotational Data Scientist at Spectrum. In the future, I plan to pursue a Master’s Degree to specialize in Data Science. 

The most influential professor: I had the privilege of having Professor Qunying Huang as my professor, and I found her to be exceptional in and out of the classroom. Beyond her outstanding teaching skills, she also mentored me and provided me with valuable guidance on my career goals and graduate school aspirations. Moreover, I had the opportunity to learn more about her research work, which further enriched my academic experience.

My favorite project: One project that stands out to me is exploring and analyzing data from the Formula-1 racing series. I enjoyed this project because it allowed me to work with a real-world dataset that is both complex and fascinating. The Formula-1 racing series generates vast amounts of data that can be collected and analyzed to gain insights into various aspects of the sport, such as driver and team performance, car design, and track conditions.

Essential skills I acquired: Through my program, I not only gained valuable technical skills but also developed my soft skills, such as communication and teamwork. Furthermore, the program provided me with opportunities to network with professionals in the field and enhance my resume-building skills, preparing me for success in the job market.

How my program helped me grow personally and professionally: After 4 years here, it’s evident to the graduating class that we were part of a world-class institution with access to abundant resources. An underestimated impact of my journey at UW–Madison is all the life skills I gained outside the classroom that were enhanced by the amazing people I met. Overall, I feel more optimistic and confident. I believe the world is full of opportunities and I am excited to see what lies ahead in my journey.

*Inaugural class for Information Science major

Lily Franks BS’23

Lily Franks BS’23

Major: Data Science 

My favorite course was: STAT/ME 424 – Statistical Experimental Design, as it provided me with hands-on experience in utilizing various designs, including factorial and randomized complete block design, along with pairwise tests such as Fisher’s and Tukey’s LSD and HSD tests. Additionally, I learned about other tools commonly employed in the field of design of experiments (DOE).

My most significant achievement: Being accepted into the peer mentor program for an introductory Python course, CS 220 – Data Science Programming I. As a mentor, I had the privilege of assisting students with their assignments and projects during personalized office hours. In the fall of my sophomore year in 2020, amidst the pandemic, this position brought me immense happiness and gratitude for my field of study, teaching assistants, and academic pursuits in general. It was a silver lining in the midst of the chaos and sadness wrought by the pandemic.

I was inspired to pursue this degree because: Since I was young, I have been captivated by numbers and developed a deep appreciation for mathematics. My first coding course changed everything, I became enamored with coding and working with data. When I discovered the tremendous power that comes with working with data, I realized that I could use my statistical insights to share my perspective with the world.

How my program helped me grow personally and professionally: Participating in this program and pursuing my studies was a pivotal moment as it revealed a profound affinity for analysis and numerical thinking that had previously only existed as hobbies. As a woman in STEM, I have faced unique obstacles and been afforded incredible opportunities that have set me apart, allowing me to discover my place in a world that feels distinct from the one I had always known prior to college. 

Shiyi He MS’23

Shiyi He MS’23

Program: MS Information

My future professional plans are: After I graduate, I plan to commence my Ph.D. studies in Computer Science at the University of Utah.

My favorite course was: LIS 705 – Introductory Analytics for Decision Making because it guides students on critical thinking for data analysis, project scoping, and implementation. It’s an excellent option for those looking to learn Python-based data analysis without a programming background.

My favorite project: During my master’s program, I had the opportunity to work as a research assistant in Professor Hutchins’s lab. Working on various research projects significantly enhanced my data analysis skills and provided me with the opportunity to conduct independent research. This experience laid the foundation for my pursuit of a doctoral degree.

How my degree changed my perspective on the world: As an international student, the most valuable aspect of this degree has been the opportunity to connect with diverse and accomplished individuals from various cultures and backgrounds. Through these interactions, my worldview has broadened, and I now possess a more open-minded perspective.

Mark Mansi PhD’23

Mark Mansi PhD’23 

Program: Computer Sciences

My favorite course was: CS 752 – Computer Architecture I, where I worked with a group to design a super-scalar out-of-order processor from scratch. Math 632 – Stochastic Processes, because it reminded me of the elegance and simple pleasure of math.

Essential skills I acquired: Approaching open-ended problems, technical writing and presentations, technical knowledge in my area, and the art of knowing what conference reviewers want.

How CDIS helped me grow personally and professionally: It helped me explore my interests and limitations, drove me to uncover old hobbies, forced me to build community, and taught me a bit about leadership, service, and teaching.

Advice for future students: I wouldn’t have ever made it without good friends and family supporting me. Invest in building a community among your colleagues, at your place of worship, at the local maker space, dance studio, or wherever you find yourself drawn.

Alexander Francis Peseckis BS’23

Alexander Francis Peseckis BS’23

Majors: Computer Sciences, Linguistics

My future professional plans are: I will be seeking a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from UW Madison.

I was inspired to pursue this degree because: I really enjoy puzzles and, when I found out that computer science demands the constant solving of new and interesting, and complex puzzles, I could not think of a better career path.

Essential skills I acquired: This program helped me deepen my tenacity, and problem-solving skills, as well as strengthen my confidence, all of which will be useful to me in the future.

Advice for future students: Strive to do your best every day but do not forget to have some fun along the way.


Andrew Tu BS’23

Andrew Tu BS’23

Majors: Data Science, Microbiology

My future professional plans are: To pursue a Ph.D. in Nutrition and Metabolism here at UW-Madison.

My favorite course was: STAT 479 – Special Topics in Statistics because I feel it really helps build us up toward utilizing R for machine learning. Professor Sankaran also expertly navigated the various topics and taught us to think critically about how best to process our data.

My favorite project: Was in Stat 433 – Data Science in R where my group elected to study the effects of social vulnerability on the incidence of disease and health outcomes. We found that many chronic diseases were closely correlated with socio-economic status, and also with intersecting identities.

Essential skills I acquired: The coding skills I have gained really helped me in developing bioinformatics pipelines for analyzing the metagenomics data I currently work with.