I had the privilege of sitting down for an interview with Aashna Pradhan, one of the Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) in the QMSS program. Aashna is currently an instructor for QMSS 201, "Intro to Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences," with Dr. Korede Ajogbeje. While she only joined as a GSI this semester, Aashna's journey in QMSS started much earlier.

Aashna is currently pursuing her Master's in Public Health with a focus on Global Management and Policy. What makes her story unique is that she completed the QMSS minor during her undergraduate years and was part of the first graduating QMSS cohort. Aashna reflects on her experience, saying, "The skills I've learned in QMSS have been incredibly valuable." She emphasizes the importance of statistics, data analysis, and visualization in the field of public health, which motivated her to complement her dual majors in Biology and Sociology.

Aashna's career involves a significant amount of analytic research, and she is grateful to the QMSS program for equipping her with a data-focused perspective and the ability to think critically about social science research questions. As a GSI, she now has a deeper understanding of QMSS concepts, which enhances her ability to approach problems through a QMSS lens.

The QMSS program is instrumental for a wide range of careers. Aashna says her QMSS minor proved to be a valuable asset during her internship search between undergraduate and graduate school. She explains that QMSS is "really unique" in its practical approach to how statistics, math, and logic are used in real-world scenarios, especially in business and research.

One of the standout aspects of QMSS, according to Aashna, is the sense of community it fosters. The program places a strong emphasis on building relationships among students and maintains high faculty engagement. Aashna proudly describes her graduating QMSS class as a "close-knit community" that remains connected even after graduation. As a GSI, she enjoys continuing to foster this sense of community, saying, "It's great to meet students, establish relationships, and learn about their interests." She also encourages students to pursue projects that align with their interests, drawing inspiration from the diverse mix of students from various majors and years. Aashna concludes that QMSS has the unique ability to make a large university like Michigan feel smaller through these close connections.

The decision to pursue QMSS was rooted in Aashna’s belief that it was the perfect complement to her majors in Biology, a hard science, and Sociology, the foundation of social sciences. She points out that both majors had one common thread - statistics. Despite her passion for statistics, Aashna felt that some academic courses outside of QMSS posed significant entry barriers, whereas QMSS provided her with the opportunity to "test the waters" at a more accommodating pace.

In her role as a GSI, Aashna emphasizes the diversity of Public Health, which, like all interdisciplinary social sciences, is multifaceted. She emphasizes the importance of having technical skills and understanding the logic behind them, especially in a world filled with copious amounts of data. Following her graduation from the University of Michigan's Masters of Public Health program, Aashna is set to return to the healthcare consulting firm Accenture, where she previously interned. Her ultimate goal is to step into the global healthcare space, a testament to her passion for making a difference in the world.