Included in this year’s Chancellor’s Student Service Award, is one of our Masters in Information Systems Graduate Students, Mrinal Ashok Bageshwari. Mrinal travelled across the world from India to Chicago last fall to pursue her academic career. From the beginning of her journey here at UIC, she started to make an impact with her tremendous contributions to student communities. Her volunteering efforts have helped both the university and campus serve the surrounding communities in need. We had the opportunity to learn about Mrinal’s incredible journey & her passion for helping others.
First, congratulations on your success in receiving a Chancellor Student Service and Leadership Award (CSSLA). It’s one of UIC’s highest honors to receive for our students. How are you feeling about receiving this award in your very first year at UIC?
I feel incredibly honored and delighted to have received this prestigious award. This tradition of 50 years immensely appreciates students’ efforts and also contributes to our continuous learning. The experience of being nominated and then being selected as a recipient in my very first year at UIC has truly boosted my confidence. I would like to dedicate this award to my astoundingly supportive family, friends and peers at UIC. I am so grateful, there would be no Mrinal without any of you.
What do you think is important to become a student leader?
I believe that good leaders know how to LISTEN. Always be open to hearing other students’ opinions and voice their concerns when needed. COMMUNICATE your ideas and suggestions clearly in a compelling manner. Most importantly, work in a team - harness others’ strengths as well as weaknesses, MOTIVATE others to do greater things. You don’t become a student leader, you are just chosen to be one.
How involved are you presently with student organizations and how has your experience been so far in being an active member?
I am very actively involved with the student organizations. I am on the Executive Board of the Graduate Student Council. I represent the Graduate College at the Information Technology Leadership Council - Educational Technology Committee. I have been working with the Office of International Services and Beta Gamma Sigma UIC Chapter. I was also involved with UIC Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences Chapter. I have loved my time with these student organizations. They have given me an opportunity to learn more about myself, have fun, network, make friends and help others.
What experiences do you think contributed to you to receive this award? Is there a program or initiative, in particular, that is close to your heart that you are incredibly proud of?
This has to be my involvement in the UIC Office of International Services’ First Friends Program. I moved to the USA in August 2019 with very little idea of what life would be like and felt lost. This program has helped me better deal with the culture shock, getting to know the USA, navigating through the university, course-selection guidance, etc. All this only fueled my motivation to be a ‘First Friend’ to the incoming international students. I assisted with their adjustment to the university, Chicago, and life in a new country. I tried my best to provide students with academic success strategies, time management tactics, skills development, and opportunities for leadership development. I hold it so close to my heart because it reminds me of how far I have come.
What is the driving factor to your success at UIC?
I have noticed my transformation from a being just a newcomer to an experienced student learner at UIC. Moreover, I have evolved as a person after coming to UIC. My hunger to always learn new things and focus towards my aim has given me the power to achieve success. I found ways to contribute to the community and then poured my heart in doing it.
What does your legacy look like?
I want to be remembered as someone who has significantly contributed to the student community. Your legacy doesn’t have to be a grand concept; try to focus on what matters the most to you. Build long-lasting relationships, be kind, do A LOT of good for yourself and the others.
Lastly, what advice would you give for other graduate students looking to receive a CSSLA?
Follow my three step process:
1. Find out what you are passionate about - Fundraising & Charity, Recycling, Mentoring, Women Empowerment, Technology, Research, etc.
2. Join a student organization and donate your time today!
3. “We rise by lifting others.” So, put in all you can and support others in the process.
Your efforts will surely be noticed, perseverance pays.
Thank you Mrinal, for inspiring the entire student community with your story. We wish you all the very best with your journey ahead and may you continue to achieve success in every endeavour of yours. To connect with Mrinal, you can connect on LinkedIn or send an email to her.