Five CSE graduate students recognized for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion at CSE
CSE has recognized five graduate students with DEI Service Awards for their significant contributions to the community and for their actions in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at CSE. This is the third year for this awards program.
According to Prof. Westley Weimer, chair of the CSE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, these awards recognize “commitment and action throughout the academic year in working to improve the climate of the CSE division.”
Multiple high-quality nominations were submitted for the awards this year, and a committee of faculty and staff selected recipients by anonymous vote.
The CSE DEI Service Awards were presented at the CSE Graduate Student Recognition Reception on April 24. The recipients were PhD students Santiago Castro, Jaylin Herskovitz, Andrew Lee, Snehal Prabhudesai, and Preeti Ramaraj.
Santiago Castro has been CSE’s Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) Steward since January of 2022. Within this role, he has worked to make graduate school more accessible to people from backgrounds that have historically been underrepresented not only in computing, but in graduate school overall. By speaking with students in his capacity as the GEO steward, he has been able to connect students who are struggling to peers who have had similar experiences, and to people and organizations on campus who are able to help.
Jaylin Herkovitz is the current DEI chair of CSEG, and has served as the CSEG representative on the CSE DEI committee since 2021. As part of this role, she has volunteered her time to speak at the CSE prospective grad student visit day and at the Washtenaw Community College STEM Scholars Program, has been a mentor through the CSE Wellness Buddy Program, and has supported applicants through CSEG’s student application support program, which focuses on students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Andrew Lee has been co-leading the Explore Computer Science Research program for the past three years. This program focuses on engaging women and underrepresented groups in research projects with mentors from CSE, the School of Information, and other departments. Andrew also offers mentorship to students in the program, helping students reach their goals and sharing career and graduate school advice. He has also directly advised several students on research projects in Natural Language Processing, several of whom went on to pursue graduate studies.
Snehal Prabhudesai has been a strong advocate for students from underrepresented groups and has been working to establish and support communities for LGBTQIA students within CSE. She has coordinated with the CSE DEI committee and brought together a group of faculty, staff, and students known as OUTdoors@CSE, and has been instrumental in organizing their community-building activities. Her tireless efforts have led to real impact across both our graduate and undergraduate communities, particularly in establishing a visible LGBTQIA community.
Preeti Ramaraj has distinguished herself in her commitment both at a community level and at an individual, one-on-one level to helping women and other marginalized groups to be successful in computer science. As a prior co-chair of the student group ECSEL+, she led the expansion of the group to support all gender minorities, and she has led efforts to build community for, recruit, and mentor women and gender minorities in CSE.