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University of Michigan School of Information


Faces of UMSI: Manel Mahroug

MADS student Manel Mahroug is a full-time mom and biologist by training who wants to use machine learning to improve patient care. 

Manel Mahroug

Manel Mahroug started the MADS program in the fall of 2019 as part of the first cohort of students, returning to school for the first time since the birth of her daughter four years ago. She is currently living in Mountain View, California. 

A former PhD student in the pharmaceutical sciences department at Washington State University, Manel was attracted to UMSI by the school’s commitment to welcoming students from different disciplines, backgrounds and professions. 

“I was excited to see how my colleagues would apply their skills in their respective domains,” said Mahroug. “Additionally, I was drawn to the teaching styles and the expertise of the faculty members of UMSI. It has been such a humbling experience being in the presence of such great minds.”

Born and raised in Algeria before attending boarding school in Italy and moving to the United States at age 18, Mahroug considers herself “a global citizen.” She’s not alone -- the 289 students in her MADS cohort hail from 29 countries and 25 states.

“MADS students are what makes the program even more exciting,” says Mahroug. “I feel lucky to be part of such a great community that values collaboration, hard work and personal improvement.”

Mahroug plans to combine her MADS degree with her undergraduate degree in biology from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania to help improve the healthcare industry with information. 

“My hope is that I can use my skills and knowledge to help improve patient care by being part of the revolution healthcare is undergoing at the moment,” says Mahroug. “I truly believe that predictive machine intelligence can be applied to find the right care and treatment for patients.”

Intrigued by the possibilities of applied data science, Mahroug says she also plans to use the skills she is learning “to improve my productivity and wellbeing by studying my own exercise and diet data.”

Mahroug was pleasantly surprised at the amount of support she and her peers are able to receive from faculty and from each other through online office hours and a community Slack channel. 

“I was able to feel part of the community, contribute to it and benefit from it,” she says.

Her advice for students who are new to online learning: “Set aside some time each week to set goals and budget your time accordingly. Try to watch the lectures and do the readings as early as possible so you have time to tackle the assignments. Also, make sure to create a distraction-free environment to help you focus. If you find yourself stuck on a specific task, take a break and come back to the problem after you spent some time working on something else.”