Please allow me to introduce myself to you; I am Rita Chowdhury a full-time, second-year MBA student at the UA Little Rock College of Business and a Graduate Research Assistant at COSMOS – a research team in the Department of Information Science. Apart from that I am currently a student member of the Joe T. Ford Investment Fund at the College of Business. Many a time the introduction makes way for numerous questions. Much like why am I in an Information Science research team? What might I be doing? How did I make it to the team? Do I have an engineering undergraduate degree?

Ph.D. student Thomas Marcoux captures part of the COSMOS team in this selfie. Rita is surrounded by her team members from the computer science department.

If truth be told, I enjoy fielding such questions. It allows me to share my journey and reinforce the importance of working in a different department altogether.

It also confirms my belief in diversity and inclusion. However, I should warn you that ‘diversity’ in this context is not limited to race, color or ethnicity but extends to students who have a diverse educational background like myself who has an undergraduate degree in Political Science (Honors) and a master’s degree in Communications. The only relationship that I might have with Information Science or the technology industry is that I worked for several years in an agency managing technology clients in the South Asian markets.

My journey to COSMOS started in the Fall of 2017 when I read several articles which highlighted some of the amazing research work Team COSMOS was pursuing in the social media arena. It tickled me to write to Dr. Nitin Agarwal, Director of COSMOS, and express my enthusiasm to join his team. Little did I know that I had set the ball in motion with my email to Dr. Agarwal. A few months later, I was called for an interview and the rest, as they say, is history. I formally joined the team in December 2017.

It has been a fantastic run so far. Let me share with you the two most important characteristics that got me here:

Always stay curious: It was my curiosity to learn and to collaborate that lead me to the graduate research assistantship at COSMOS. The universe acts in a very wonderful way when you stay curious. Curiosity to learn manifests opportunities.

Challenge yourself with a new industry: It’s always very comforting to be able to work with people who share similar backgrounds with you. They understand your skill sets, understand your role in the team; in short, these people get you and there is no denying we all crave for such kind of work environment. Joining COSMOS was definitely a new domain for me. Students who came from a different educational background and most pursuing a Ph.D. degree in the field of Information Science, but at this point I would like to applaud the vision of our director Dr. Nitin Agarwal who was willing to expand the team beyond just information science. Through this opportunity I have opened up myself to new learning possibilities and also allowed others to learn a little bit about myself. Today I understand what goes on behind our modern, sassy technology and perhaps understand the disposition of the people working in this field a little better than I did earlier.

Like Dr. Suess says “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

About our COSMOS student blogger:

Rita is an MBA student at the UA Little Rock – College of Business.
She juggles her time as Graduate Research Assistant with COSMOS,
a full-time student, and a mom.

linkedin >> Rita Chowdhury