Commencement 2023

Commencement Speaker: Shruti Bathia, PhD

Making lists, meeting deadlines, and navigating the challenges of being an international graduate student and new mom

Shruti Bathia smiling at camera
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Commencement address (04:47)

Shruti Bahtia, who has an undergraduate engineering degree and an MBA, was not as daunted by her educational doctoral studies in the area of measurement, psychometrics and quantitative psychology as she was by the stresses of being an international student.

Bathia, who grew up in Kolkata, India, had to learn how to drive (on the other side of the road), build a credit history, navigate the government’s visa process, and make friends along the way.

“You’re doing all of this while you’re trying to excel in graduate school,” she said. “That’s the story of any international student here.”

Bathia said it was also a challenge to stay motivated every day without someone telling you what to do. Over five years of completing her doctoral degree and especially through the global pandemic, she made detailed to-do lists and stayed disciplined, even when the work could be quite lonely. “I had to hold myself accountable every day,” she said.

Bathia gave herself deadlines, including finishing her dissertation by the time she went into labor with her daughter, Amaia, now a toddler. She just made it.

Bathia chose Berkeley because she wanted to do quantitative work with faculty members such as Professor Mark Wilson, a core member of the Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education program (informally known as SESAME).

“That’s how I picked up Berkeley,” she said. “This program was exactly where I wanted to be.”

She pursued her interests in psychology, studying equity and racial justice in the context of stereotypes. Her dissertation explores how to measure the impact of stereotype threat on community college transfer students.

Bathia is using this research in her job at Pilot, a company where she is exploring employee needs and interests to help design an environment that is more enjoyable for them and creates greater belonging.