Faces of UMSI: Aayana Anand
Ask Aayana Anand (BSI ’25) about her taste in music, and she’ll answer with specificity. Rather than waiting for her Spotify Wrapped to drop, she analyzed her own listening data to determine which Taylor Swift album ranked highest. To avoid duplicates, she had to create a “(Taylor’s Version)” filter function to use in every step of her code.
“You should get one thing in this interview,” she jokes. “It’s that I am a major Swiftie.”
A junior on the information analysis track at the University of Michigan School of Information, Aayana is also a podcaster for the intersectional feminist campus organization What the F and an applied leadership fellow at the Barger Leadership Institute. She is passionate about using data and technology to address societal issues.
This past summer, she worked as a data analytics intern at Stryker, a medical manufacturing company with a mission to make health care better. Aayana, who will be returning to Stryker next summer as a marketing analytics intern, sees health care as a space where many of her interests intersect.
“When we discuss health care, we also have to talk about social issues and socioeconomics,” she says. “We need to talk about breaking barriers and mitigating disparities that exist in our communities — across race, class, gender, sexuality. Women's health and reproductive rights are very important to me — making those things more accessible.”
Aayana entered U-M as a computer science major, but despite her love of coding, the program didn’t feel like a fit. She realized she wanted to use her coding skills to make an impact. She enrolled in SI 110 Introduction to Information Science. “I was really interested in how information technology affects our lives,” she says. “I had never done a project-based curriculum before, and I love it because it's so representative of what you do in work.”
Her final project was a comprehensive yet accessible blog post meant to inform consumers about how Starbucks uses information science principles to “trick” customers and increase profits. “It's something I get asked about every single time in interviews,” she says of the blog, which appears on her LinkedIn profile.
She takes a similar approach — discussing important issues with a playful spin — in her role as co-director of the “What the F” podcast. Now in its third season, “What the F” has tackled topics including the queer history of Halloween, the cultural significance of hair, and the ethics of thrifting. A recent episode presents a deep dive into “the best pop album in existence”: 1989 (Taylor’s Version).
“I think one of the things I’ve learned from ‘What the F’ is leading through relationship building and showing compassion for others,” Aayana says. “I’m a very interactive leader. I love getting the inside scoop on everything, talking with others and seeing what their input is.”
As an applied leadership fellow at the Barger Leadership Institute — her other home on campus when she isn’t studying with friends in North Quad — she helps organize grants and funding opportunities for fellow U-M students, “promoting leadership by doing.”
Aayana seems to approach everything she does with genuine enthusiasm. Since coming to UMSI, she has found a way to bring her interests into the curriculum, rather than keeping them separate. “Junior year is really busy, but even in the hard moments, I still feel really validated by the work I'm doing,” she says. “I feel like everything I'm doing has a purpose.”
“I love this program,” she adds. “Honestly, it's the perfect fit for me.”
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