A love of learning leads IS student to become DISC president

If a photographer takes 1,000 pictures, perhaps five will turn out. However, the photographer got 995 lessons on how to take a better picture. That’s the philosophy of Shashank Rajani: photographer, technology whiz, and the 2017-2018 Department of Information Systems Club president.

Rajani is a fervent learner, whether he’s taking pictures, analyzing data for a course project, or leading the Department of Information Systems Club (DISC) in weekly meetings. He strives to learn something new every day and grow because of it. 

He sees learning as a way to improve himself, to become a more productive member of society. 

“I want to be a well-rounded person, and I think having a mentality of always wanting to learn will help me in my career,” Rajani says.  

On the college front

The junior is pursuing two majors — one in Computer Information Systems (CIS) and another in Business Data Analytics (BDA) — but his path to these degrees took a detour through bioengineering.

Rajani always thought he’d be an engineer like his father, but the people skills he got from his mother led him to consider other careers. He changed his major about a month before the start of his freshman year at ASU because he couldn’t see himself as a bioengineer in the future, he says. After looking at the curriculum, Rajani thought a CIS degree was more in line with his skill set.

“CIS was a perfect fit because it gives a strong technical background while also developing the soft skills necessary for the business world,” he says.

Rajani added a BDA major during his sophomore year. He thought a focus on data analytics would be useful in an information systems career. The two degrees will allow him to learn about new technologies, learn how to use and analyze data, and work with people.

His decision is proving to be the right one. “Now that I’m in my core classes, I’m enjoying everything that I’m learning,” he says.

Rajani credits the enjoyable coursework to his professors and their teaching approach. “ASU stood out to me because I like the teach-first mentality we have here,” he explains. “Professors want their students to learn. You can see their passion for the coursework.”

Hands-on learning

DISC, founded in 1999, is a group of about 120 like-minded CIS and BDA students who meet weekly for collaboration, community service, and to rub shoulders with potential employers. According to DISC’s website, the club puts practices and concepts learned in class into action.

When Rajani was last year’s DISC Vice President of Community Service, the club won the Association for Information Systems Outstanding Student Chapter award. He saw the opening for president this year and thought he could learn something in that role. He isn’t taking the job lightly. The goal, Rajani says, is to make sure every member becomes a well-rounded professional-in-training. 

“To make us more marketable to potential employers, that’s what we want as students,” he says. “Part of the role as president is to make sure every member feels that way and is getting the most out of it.”

Rajani and the club have arranged for a four-part training certification course regarding cybersecurity for DISC members. This will be the first time the club has branched out from the development and connection role they typically function as, and they will focus on teaching.

“I don’t know many students who have that background and have a certification on their resume,” Rajani says.

The role of president feels natural to Rajani, and it’s a good experience for a career that may include managing people. He’s glad he went for it. Rajani credits his parents for encouraging him to push himself and take chances.

Humble beginnings

Rajani’s parents, who are originally from India, completed their college degrees there and moved to the U.S. for work. His father would share stories of being in a new place and working his way up from meager beginnings, Rajani says.

“He barely had any money in his pocket, he wasn’t sure what to do or where to go, and then he found his way into computer science.”

His father went on to earn his master’s degree and become an engineer, and now owns a cloud-based business and is Rajani’s mentor.

His parents and younger sister, who live in San Jose, California, are Rajani’s biggest supporters. His mother guided him through the college application process, and helped him see his strengths and figure out what college would be best for him and his future.

“Moms don’t get as much credit as they deserve,” he says.

His family, friends, and India are often the focus of Rajani’s photography. He picked up a camera in middle school and admits that at times not getting the perfect picture can be frustrating, but it has taught him to be patient and to keep learning from his mistakes. The hobby has become almost therapeutic to Rajani, he says. “It’s a nice balance to the stress of school.”

“That learning process, figuring out how to take a good picture, all that just really calms my mind,” he said.

For more information about Rajani and his photography, visit: https://shashankrajani.com/ or https://rajaniphoto.com/.

For more information about DISC, go to: http://asudisc.org/.