Commonwealth Scholar - The iSchool at Pitt

Check out the life of a graduate Pitt iSchool Commonwealth Scholar!

Tag: Jourdan Walls (Page 1 of 2)

November’s Social Hour (Diwaloween)

The fall semester’s Social Hours have centered around the many cultures that make up our iSchool. September’s theme was a celebration of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. October’s theme was Oktoberfest. For this month’s Social Hour we partnered with ANKUR-Indian Graduate Student Association to focus on Diwali, the Indian Festival of lights.

In honor of Diwali we decided to challenge students to create Rangoli (Traditional Indian decoration usually created with flowers) with nontraditional materials.


Nontraditional materials = sprinkles and lentils

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Why I Chose Pitt: The Path to MSIS

I just wanted to leave everyone with my point of view before Admitted Students’ Day. Finding the program for you is very important. Not everyone gets the chance to hear a current student’s perspective, so I wanted to provide one for potential applicants and students.


Throughout grade school, I was exposed to science and technology, ultimately guiding me to select Computer Science as my college major. After a couple of years in the fast-paced, highly demanding University of Maryland curriculum, I decided to change my major to Psychology. I wasn’t mature enough to dedicate all of my time to computer science (I struggled through most of my courses and needed to study all of the time), and wanted to move to something where I was better-skilled and equally interested. When I changed to Psychology, I loved it. I grew quite fond of counseling and cognitive psychology, but something was missing. In my cognitive class, my teacher talked about using cognitive psychology in technology and how there were so many complex mathematics behind the social science. I knew what was wrong; I missed computer science. So, in my last semester of school, I took all courses that related to technology and business, including Human Factors and the Psychology of Video Games to learn all I could learn about relating psychology to technology.

What’s It Called?

Regardless of what field I chose, I had to get an advanced degree because there’s not much you can do with a B.S. in Psychology. I would be on Google everyday searching random phrases such as “psychology and computers,” and “majors where you can use psychology and computer science.” There it was, information science. I had NO clue what it was because I never heard about it before. Sure, I heard about human factors engineering and human computer interaction. But, something so general and incorporated so much more? It’s like all my answers appeared in two words. Actually, that’s kind of funny that I found answers in information science…because you know… it’s information, ha.

The Metaphorical Glass Slipper at NSBE

During the NSBE Fall Regional Conference (2 Hype!!), I went to the Career/College Fair and ran into the School of Information Sciences at Pitt. Long story short, they handed me a packet with all of the information about the school. I looked at the packet and fell in love. I’m the type of person who is interested in everything and this school was going to teach it all to me. Being that I applied to and almost attended Pitt in undergrad, I knew this was fate. This was my school. I was Cinderella and Pitt just slipped the information science shoe on my foot; perfect fit.

Trying Not to Put All My Data on One Storage Device (or Eggs in One Basket)

As a responsible prospective graduate school student, it is your duty to research more than one school to ensure that your needs are met. I could go on and on about the other schools I looked into, but I prefer to leave them to your own discovery. Instead, I will leave you with a few reasons why Pitt stood out to me.

Freedom: Most of the programs that I looked into were VERY specific. You could specialize in human-computer interaction, or you could study information systems, but you couldn’t do both. At Pitt, you have an array of choices. You could specialize in any information topic, even selecting more than one track, or you can be a general student. It’s like the grownup version of creating your own major. Currently, I am a general student. While I have interests in HCC and web development, I chose not to be constrained because I’d like to dabble in telecommunications as well.

Technical Curriculum: A lot of the programs I found focused a lot more on business and social science, and less on the technical parts of information science. While the former appealed to me, I still wanted to develop a holistic understanding of technology and continue to develop my computer programming skills. Pitt gives you that by offering a lot of project-heavy courses, while also offering courses that focus on concepts and research.

Location: Simply put, I wanted to get away from home and experience life in a new place. Because I love home so much, I’m pretty sure grad school was my last chance to get out there, at least past DC/MD/VA. Pittsburgh is a nice city; not too loud, not too crazy. I can ride anywhere on the bus for free (thanks, Pitt) and nothing is more than 15 min out of reach if you have a car (paid street parking before 6pm/10pm can be a burden, though). Night life is pretty decent if that’s important to you. It is to me, so I love it. I also love that there’s so much food to experience!!! I love different foods, and eating something other than food from big franchises is a treat. I seldom eat big-named pizza (Domino’s, Pizza Hut, etc.); I usually go to my local pizza shop, Pizza Perfecta. But, let me not ramble on. This can be another topic for another day.

What Happened Next?

I started four applications and only completed the one for Pitt. As soon as I got accepted, I stopped worrying about the others. I got into my #1 school, with scholarships!



For those who are making a decision about Pitt’s MSIS Program, whether accepted or still applying, feel free to contact me at or I promise I’ll give a full, honest, unbiased opinion (I won’t act like a Pitt rep) of my experience within the iSchool and the program.

Meetings, Meetings, and more Meetings

This past month has been filled with meetings for numerous organizations, both student organizations and local. Two that I had the chance to attend were the Special Libraries Association (SLA) – Pittsburgh Chapter meeting and the School of Information Sciences Graduate Organization (SISGO) meeting.

The SLA meeting occurred on Monday, September 30 and covered “ePortfolios and Beyond.” Nancy Flury Carlson, a member of SLA, gave a broad overview of where to create these, the benefits, and her experience in the creation of her own ePortfolio. It was a great opportunity to meet the local SLA chapter, eat delicious food from Salim’s, and get insight into how ePortfolios have helped these professionals in their careers.

This morning I attended the SISGO meeting. As an officer of DSO and SAASC, I am a voting member of SISGO. This was an informational meeting discussing the nuts and bolts of what to expect this upcoming year. Our staff liaisons were very encouraging of the students to do as we will. We have a wide range of freedom to utilize our student activity fee in a constructive manner; planning and executing professional, academic, and social events for our iSchool student body.

As Commonwealth Scholars, Jourdan and I plan monthly Social Hour, and recruitment events for prospective iSchool students. However, we are just as excited to be a part of more events through our officer roles, events benefiting our student body in other capacities as well!

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us!

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