Anah Southard-Goebel chose Ball State’s 100% online master of science in data science because she wanted the flexibility of working remotely while studying.
“The flexibility of doing my classes at my own pace throughout the week really drew me to online learning for my master’s,” Anah says.
Choosing Ball State Online for her institution of study made sense. The data science program aligned with her personal interests and gave her the opportunity to learn the things that were important to her career goals, like Cloud services, statistics, programming languages, and data visualization. The program focused on the technical skills that she wanted to acquire.
Originally, Anah earned her undergraduate degree in Applied Health Science with the hopes of pursuing pre-med, but after a summer internship as a research assistant, she changed direction. During the internship, she was introduced to the programming language R and realized that her love for science was more about the data. After discovering this, her path forward was easy to follow.
Once Anah began the program, working and studying simultaneously was a seamless process, and extremely rewarding for Anah. She took on a data scientist position with the state government, working for Family Social Services Administration (FSSA), while still completing her masters. In her position, she works closely with the equity officer “to connect the state’s vast amount of data to equity efforts to improve FSSA’s services and equity initiatives.”
During school, her employer encouraged her to use what she was learning in class by providing her with a “sandbox environment” at work. She was able to find many opportunities to use what she learned in school when the subjects of her work and school assignments were constantly overlapping. This allowed her to practice working on “state data in a safe way that reinforced concepts learned at school” and gave her valuable hands-on practice with time series analyses, regressions, ML models, NLP, and more.
Anah feels as if she is following her family legacy by working at FSSA. Both of her grandfathers worked in similar roles throughout their careers. One of them was an epidemiologist for the State of Maryland and the other specialized in government contracts in computer programming.
In the short term, Anah hopes to gain valuable skills in her field and take on more complex projects. Her long-term goals have her taking on a leadership role at FSSA and “expand [her] skillset to work towards becoming a data engineer.”
“Ball State’s data science master’s allowed me to learn and apply knowledge in all of these different data fields and set me apart as an employee. I felt I could not only be efficient in my work but a top performer in my data science and engineering team.”
Anah will graduate from Ball State with her master’s in data science in May 2023.