When Miten Dalsaniya decided to attend the iSchool for his graduate studies, he never expected that a global pandemic would cause him to put his academics on hold. As an undergraduate at the University of Mumbai in India last spring, his final exams and graduation were delayed until October to help reduce the spread of the virus. Unfortunately for him, however, along with international travel restrictions put in place, this prevented Dalsaniya from beginning his graduate studies in the Fall 2020 semester as planned.

Dalsaniya is here in Syracuse now, after a 30 hour plane journey and weeks of quarantine and testing, and is more than ready to begin working toward his master’s degree in information management at the iSchool.

“I chose the iSchool because the masters program is highly reputable and highly ranked. The curriculum at the iSchool is excellent and aligns exactly with my career interests,” he said.

Rahul Sunil Khairnar had a similar experience, as he also delayed his start to the semester due to travel restrictions coming from India to the United States. Khairnar is also a graduate of the University of Mumbai, but had taken a year to work and get experience with coding languages like Python in preparation for his master’s degree in information management. 

Khairnar chose the iSchool because he wants to work in the IT industry, but didn’t want a degree that focused solely on coding experience. He liked that the iSchool offers opportunities to learn about the business side of things as well, creating a balance between technical and management skills.

“I’m really looking forward to doing project-based work in my classes and making connections,” he said. “The population at the iSchool is very diverse and I can’t wait to meet people from different cultures all over the world.”

Ruchita Hiteshkumar Harsora, another international student from India, had to push back her start date from the fall semester as well due to the virus and travel restrictions. She originally considered starting her degree in the fall of 2021, but she had already worked for 5 years in the IT industry as a technology analyst in cloud computing and did not want to wait any longer to get started.

“I’m really excited about coming to the iSchool because the other programs I applied to just don’t compare,” said Ruchita. “The course structure here includes project management, not just data science, and since I already have 5 years of experience it allows me to pick up where I left off with new opportunities I wouldn’t have had in India.”

Some other students, like Leah Mitchell, a first year master’s student in applied data science at the iSchool decided to take a semester off due to the pandemic. Mitchell graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in May of 2020, and after applying to the program, decided to delay her start until the spring. Even though she thought about staying home to study remotely, she made the decision to attend the iSchool in-person without ever having been physically on campus.

“I had hoped that the pandemic would be over or subsided by the spring, and even though that’s not the case, it’s nice to start after the school has already experienced one semester like this and they know what they’re doing,” she said. “The school has improved this semester by requiring weekly testing and I’m really excited that I can be on campus in person now.”

While their new student orientation was entirely virtual because of the pandemic, the new students were impressed with the amount of information and guidance they received from iSchool staff. They said they missed out on the fun, social aspects of meeting new people in person during the orientation, but many of them have hybrid classes that allow them to be on campus some days.

All of these students are also eager to get involved now that they’re finally at the iSchool. Some are planning to join iConsult, an iSchool program that gives students the opportunity to work with real-world client projects involving digital transformations. And others have already lined up research and academic collaborations with iSchool faculty. 

While this semester will be anything but normal for these new graduate students, their excitement and eagerness to learn propelled them to begin their degrees midyear and they are ready to go.

“I can’t wait to have so many diverse experiences at the iSchool,” said Dalsaniya. “I’ll get to meet peers from all over to help me grow and work with professors who can teach me so much about new technologies here.”