When you ask Abhishek Tripathi how he ended up at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Information Science and Technology (IS&T), a smile breaks out on his face.
It's the kind of smile you can tell holds fond memories as he starts at the beginning of his story, which starts in an ancient city in northern India.
“I belong to the city of Varanasi, India, it’s one of the oldest cities in the world,” Tripathi said. “Mark Twain once visited Varanasi and said that Varanasi is older than history itself.”
The history of Varanasi is a point of pride for Tripathi, who earned his undergraduate degree at a university in his hometown. Like many young professionals, he worked for a few years before realizing that he wanted to switch career paths. Inspired by his undergrad experiences, Tripathi felt the pull to become a faculty member in higher education - which would require graduate school.
Varanasi, India by Shiv Prasad
A chance connection paved the way to Omaha
A university in Omaha, halfway across the world from Varanasi, would have probably never made it on his radar if it weren't for a relationship IS&T had formed with the faculty from his undergraduate program. He recalled IS&T faculty visiting Varanasi frequently and decided to apply for a master’s degree at UNO in Management Information Systems in 2006.
It’s been a great journey, it’s one of the best decisions of my life.
- Abhishek Tripathi
“The MIS program gave me an idea of how not only technology works, but the entire system,” Tripathi said. “It has given me a lot of confidence to work in the industry or express myself. The MIS program is a bridge between the technology and the management.”
During his master’s program at IS&T, Tripathi earned a full-time position at Gallup as a systems analysist. After working in Omaha for a few years, his goal of working in higher education was still on his mind, and Tripathi was selected by India’s Institute of Management as an academic associate. Getting admitted to the program would take him back to India, but through his work with the Institute he realized that he would eventually need to earn his Ph.D if he really wanted to have a career in higher education.
The rest, as they say, is ancient history
Tripathi returned to IS&T and enrolled in the Ph.D. in Information Technology program with a renewed interest in becoming a professor.
He credits his faculty advisor, Deepak Khazanchi, Ph.D., for pushing him to look beyond the traditional models because technology is always changing. This mindset helped Tripathi focus his research on crowdsourcing and complex problem solving, which was still in its infancy stages in the early 2010’s.
Tripathi is still overwhelmed with the support he received at IS&T to conduct his research and follow his dreams. To help kick off his research, Tripathi applied for an UNO GRACA grant, and found himself with much needed funding to complete his research.
Today, Tripathi is an assistant professor at The College of New Jersey School of Business where he has been able to continue his research, and still talks with his IS&T professors.
“When I was a student, I knew I could knock on a faculty’s door and they would answer any of my questions,” Tripathi says. “Today, I still call Dr. Khazanchi for advice, he’s still a big part of my research and makes sure I’m on the right track. He’s still making sure I’m part of the family.”