Faces of UMSI: Maggie Davidson

How can this process be improved? That’s the question Maggie has found herself asking most of her life. That’s why she’s here at U of M, because she wants the resources that enable her to help others by identifying and breaking down the barriers that prevent them from doing their jobs efficiently.

“I have an intense desire to make a positive difference in the world.” Maggie says. “The usual way to go about that is working directly with people, but I’ve found that my skills serve people best in a different way. I want to help people by finding ways to improve the processes that help them do their jobs and serve their constituents better.”

Maggie grew up in Ann Arbor but the reason she initially came to U of M wasn’t for graduate school—it was for a job. She works as a data and systems analyst in the Opportunity Hub of the College of Language, Sciences and the Arts. 

“Basically, I’m an information consultant for my office. Our office consumes and produces a massive amount of data, and a lot of people heavily rely on the data we’re producing. I’ve noticed in my life, in every job, that people seem to become hung up on inefficient processes that impede them from doing their best work, which is usually providing a certain service. That’s why I’m here, why I’m getting this degree. I want people to be empowered to do their work with minimal barriers.”

Because she was living in Ann Arbor, working full time for the university, and interested in an iSchool, it made sense to apply for the MSI. The comprehensive content of the U-M program is what attracted Maggie initially. However, it’s been her experiences with her teachers that have solidified her esteem for the master’s program.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say Kentaro has been the best professor I’ve ever had. It seems a cliché to say one’s teachers are engaging and passionate, but it’s the truth. I can tell they want to be here.”

She appreciates that the teachers seem to connect the material to each student in a variety of ways.

“I’ve never been the kind of learner who does best simply reading the material and listening to a lecture,” Maggie explains. “That’s why I’ve been happy with the way classes are taught are UMSI. No matter what your learning style is, there’s a way for you to learn and understand.”

Maggie’s hope is to work for the government after graduation. She realizes there are challenges in that line of work, but she thinks that’s exactly why she needs to be doing it.

“I’ve worked for the government before. I’m aware of the inherent obstacles. My goal is to break down the barriers for the people who desperately need the government services, whether that’s for immigration, IRS or health care at the Veterans Affairs. It should be easier for people to do their taxes, to see a doctor, to get forms processed. If I can make a difference in that area, I will be happy.”

Maggie doesn’t have as much free time as she’d like. She shows up to a full-time job every day. She’s taking classes on top of that. She’s also getting married in three months. If she can find spare time, she enjoys cooking, walking and pub trivia.