Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview with i3 Scholar, Emely Rodriguez

Emely Rodriguez '13

CW is proud to have another i3 scholar, Emely Rodriguez. This summer, she spent all of June in Pittsburgh, PA at the University of Pittsburgh's iSchool Inclusion Institute of Information Sciences. Having just met her team, her team research project is only getting started. She will spend the rest of the year researching and putting the project together with her team long-distance in order to get it ready for next June, when the entire 2013 Cohort will return to Pittsburgh for a two week program. During that program, Emely and her team will present their year-long project. I spoke with Emely to learn more about her i3 experience and her plans for the future.

Olivia: How much did you know about the program and why did you decide to do it? What was the selection process like?
Emely: I didn’t know anything at all, honestly. It was presented to me by my former boss. He recommended me and so did my English professor. I didn’t even know Information Science existed at first. I went because it was a new experience and I know that there was something I wanted to learn beyond what I was learning here. So, I thought it was going to be a good opportunity to get out for the first time and travel and learn something that I’ve never heard of before. I went there with an open mind, didn’t expect anything, because it was my first time leaving the state without my parents and I never really took an opportunity like this to go out of the state for something academic. 

Olivia: What was the day-to-day schedule? Where some of the other student from?
Emely: Every other day, we would wake up early enough for breakfast at 9 and, from usually 10:30 to 4, we would have a speaker and they would give a presentation about either social media or technology or the environment. We would have activities as well for about an hour or two. Also every other day, we would have lunch provided for us. After 4 or 5 we would have time to ourselves. There was one strip that’s very famous for Pittsburgh students, so we tried to explore every store that was on that strip. It was really exciting because there was a lot of food that I’ve never seen in New York. A lot of the other students were from North Carolina and I met some students from Ohio. There were 2 other new Yorkers, some from Jersey, Connecticut, and I think one of them is from California.

Olivia: Can you describe the project you will be working on and your team?
Emely: We chose an environmental project- we wanted to do something to go green. We got to group up with whatever advisor we wanted to work with and it would be usually a group of 4, but we were lucky enough to have a group of 5 because we have a set of twins in our group. Basically, we want to find a method so that we can make big companies, like McDonald’s and Subway, more environmentally friendly because we noticed that a lot of their companies don’t help the environment as much as we need it to be helped. We were hoping that with the small step that we do, we can provide them with a method of being eco-friendly. They can become more helpful to the environment and we can have a more sustainable place to live. Actually, one of the girls from my group is from Puerto Rico, but luckily we’re all in the same time zone so communication isn’t as hard. It’s only hard when there are events that are happening in their lives that they can’t communicate with us, but we have Google Hangout and we do mostly everything on Google. There’s a program online called Asana and that’s a task manager or project manager, I believe, and we talk through there. We downloaded an app, GroupMe, and we text through there as a group. Right now, my computer crashed so I’m having trouble there. Aside from that, my phone has a front camera so hopefully I can work through there, but it’ll be a little difficult because I don’t have the actual documents on my laptop. We’re hoping that we can find a way to all group up in one location, hopefully Spring Break we can all go to Puerto Rico and have a little mini i3 getaway and work on our project.

Olivia: I know that you just graduated in May, so what are you plans for after CW?
Emely:  In the i3 program, many schools came to explain their graduate programs and I really fell in love with Carnegie Mellon. Hopefully, I can get a scholarship or work through something there and get my Masters. As a group, we also want to work on going to the iConference, so we want to get our project published so we can present it at the conference, which will be in California next year. This year it’s in Germany. [The schools] were talking about information management systems, which sounds pretty cool, but I’m not completely sure yet what I want to do. The field that I really want to get into and information science… I don’t really see the bridge yet, but I’m hoping that little by little it becomes more clear to me.

Olivia: What was the most interesting thing you learned from this experience?
Emely: To not be afraid of people. I honestly had a little meltdown over there because it was the first time that I broke out of my shell, I guess. We had a debate and I couldn’t handle the pressure. Little by little, I learned to notice that it’s not bad and it’s a learning experience and people don’t bite! So it was really really nice. The people were very warm and welcoming. They weren’t judgmental at all, which is the first thing people think when they’re going to go present. I was really thankful that the people I got to experience this with were so nice and friendly. But I was able to present eventually, so I lost that little fear I had that day!

Interviewed by Olivia Rosenberg