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University of Michigan School of Information


Rishma Balakrishnan

Rishma Balakrishnan standing in the North Quad courtyard

School of Information Bachelor’s Association (SIBA) featured member: Rishma Balakrishnan, President

Degree being pursued/area of interest: Bachelor of Science in Information, User Experience Design (class of 2024)

Where you are from: Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Goal of organization/mission statement: The School of Information Bachelors Association is the student government body for the bachelors programs here at UMSI. We act as a representative of the needs of students within these programs. We sit on the BSI curriculum committee and the UMSI DEI committee to ensure that undergraduates' voices are being represented in all aspects of UMSI. We also coordinate events specifically tailored to BSI students' needs each semester.

Why are you involved? What experiences/interests led you to be a part of this student org?: After transferring into the School of Information from the College of Engineering, I felt that there was a need for a more active student government body for BSI students. More specifically, I hoped to see more events planned for BSI students by BSI students, and I also wanted to increase attendance at these events to foster a stronger sense of community within the BSI program.

What impact do you hope to make with your involvement?: I hope to establish a list of events that can recur every semester or every year, such as resume workshops, social events, galas/formals and more. This way, future SIBA members can have a list of event ideas already in place when they join and BSI students can expect high-quality events from us every year.

What is involved in membership/commitment?: Every BSI student is automatically a member of SIBA. As for the board, we meet as an entire group for thirty minutes once every other week. We also split into four different committees--representation (advertising SIBA and its events to the rest of the BSI committee), advocacy (emphasizing DEI efforts within SIBA), development (planning events and logistics), and newsletter (sending out a monthly newsletter about SI events). These committees may meet more often. To become a board member, keep an eye out for nomination forms in your inbox every November.

Noteworthy about the org: We are always looking to learn more about students' experiences in the BSI program. Members of SIBA sit on committees with faculty members, so we can always bring up your ideas and stories to people who can take action to improve the program.

Success story: Through SIBA, I got to sit on the BSI curriculum committee and directly provide my input on different aspects of the curriculum, which I found highly rewarding. The faculty on the committee are very open to hearing about the student experience at UMSI and I really enjoyed being a source for students' anecdotes during the committee meetings.

How does the student org collaborate with other groups or UMSI to achieve common goals?: We are always looking to work with other UMSI student organizations to co-host events! In the past, we have helped advertise events put on by other student organizations.

A good reason to join: SIBA is one of the most powerful ways to make your voice heard at UMSI! You will also get to work with other like-minded individuals who want to make a difference in our community.

Important events/activities: Our biggest event of the year is the SIBA gala! This year (2023), it is on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 5:30 to 8:30 PM in the Union's Rogel Ballroom. The night includes great music, fun giveaways, a photo booth and dinner -- it will be our biggest event of the year, and an incredible chance to meet other students in the program, so we hope to see most BSI students there!

Meetings and common activities: During board meetings, we typically discuss next steps toward bringing our event ideas to life. We also have time set aside for any board members to bring up new ideas so that we can strategically plan for them! As for activities open to all BSI students, we typically host a variety of events, from career development events to social events.

Interesting project currently being worked on: This semester, we are working with the UMSI Engaged Learning Office, and we are participating in their Student Org - Engaged Learning Leaders (SO-ELL) program. This program helps student organization leaders set up or improve upon a process to manage student-led projects with real-world clients. Many of our board members will be gaining consulting experience and building a project-focused portfolio through this program.

How to get involved: Email us if you would like to work on an event idea with us! If you would like to become a board member, we will be sending out a nomination form via email in November.

Where to find more information: Email [email protected] to learn more or give us your feedback and ideas! For fall 2023, you can fill out our interest form.