Meet the Inaugural Data Justice Academy

June 9, 2022
2022 Data Justice Academy Cohort

The School of Data Science welcomed 18 undergraduate students to the 2022 Data Justice Academy. Students will participate in nine weeks of intensive research on topics ranging from health disparities and housing inequality to criminal justice and education. In addition to mentored research, students will participate in technical skills training and professional development with data science faculty and staff.

The Data Justice Academy is designed as an immersive residential experience for undergraduate students from groups historically underrepresented in data science. This summer's program is made possible by corporate sponsors Deloitte, Capital One, and Oracle.

The 2022 cohort hails from 11 colleges and universities with backgrounds in computer science, mass communications, and economics. Learn more about the participants and their summer research projects


Christian Elisha Mills

Christian Mills | B.S. in Computer Science 2025, Virginia State University                                  

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope to better understand what Data Science is all about and how to apply it in real-world situations."

What are your career aspirations? "Systems engineering is the most intriguing as of now, but maybe this program will change my mind."


Sokona Mangane

Sokona Mangane | B.S. in Mathematics, Minor in Digital & Computational Studies 2023,  Bates College

What do you hope to learn from this experience? “I applied to the Data Justice Academy because it provides me the opportunity to approach data science with an intersectional lens and uses it to challenge social issues and possibly guide public policy. I’ve always been passionate about work that positively impacts communities and at this program, I’m able to do that, while doing what I love: problem-solving.”  

What are your career aspirations? “I plan to go to graduate school for my master’s in data science and am interested in doing a co-op internship with a nonprofit organization. Ultimately, the goal is to have a career that involves research and data science in my career, alongside working with impacted communities to inform public policy.”  


Christian Armstrong

Christian Armstrong | B.S. in Data Science 2024, University of Houston Downtown

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "Whatever our mentors have to offer. I want to soak up whatever I can. If that’s technical skills, soft skills, or management skills I want to diversify my data science palette as much as possible."

What are your career aspirations? "I aspire to work in smart city development as a means of creating parity across all communities"


Jelani

Jelani Francis | B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature 2025, Spelman College

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied to the Data Justice Academy because I am really interested in data science and how it can be used to help minorities. I believe that data science can help underrepresented communities become more equitable."

What are your career aspirations? "My career aspirations are to become an Ambassador for the government."  


Joya

Joya Wheatfall-Melvin | B.A. in Political Science; Minor Spanish and Public Health, 2024 Spelman College

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied to the Data justice academy as a referral from my Data Analysis and Research Methods professor. Dr. Unislawa Williams, at Spelman College. As a political scientist in her course, her enthusiasm for data science influenced me to think about other career paths involving the scientific realm of political science, and also the opportunity of diversifying the data science domain."  

What are your career aspirations? "I aspire to become a lawyer practicing health law, policy, and bioethics to advocate for global health equity."  


Nola

Nola Watson | B.S. in Computer Science 2023. The College of New Jersey

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I wanted to learn more about how computer science can be used for social justice." 

What are your career aspirations? I hope to use computer science to try and solve social issues."


Data Justice Academy 2022 Cohort

Aurelie Marcelin | B.A. in Mathematics; Minor Economics 2022,  Boston College

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied to the Data Justice Academy because I wanted an environment that would allow me to apply the skills and ideas I learned as I pursue my degree in mathematics but would also foster growth and development. Data Justice Academy seemed like the best opportunity to expose myself to the Data Science field while still receiving guidance and assistance through mentored research."

What are your career aspirations? "While still exploring the career path I’d like to follow, I hope Data Justice Academy might serve as a sort of guiding light towards helping me combine my passion for mathematical models in relation to solving real-world problems."


Cole

Cole Whittington | B.A. in Economics 2025. Boston University

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied to the Data Justice Academy to grow my coding skills so I can effectively solve real-world problems affecting my community." 

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope to learn at least one coding language and how to use data to help municipalities achieve goals."

What are your career aspirations? "I hope to create a competitive third party in the United States to force change in our government."


Aaron

Aaron Parson | B.S. in Computer Science Cyber Security Focal Path 2024,  University of Virginia,

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied to the Data Justice Academy because I wanted to increase my aptitude in Computer Science and Data Science while also working toward a good cause."  

What are your career aspirations? "I hope to work in cybersecurity, specifically in data privacy and management. I want to work in cybersecurity because it has an ever-growing impact on our lives as technology continues to develop. Furthermore, it deals with many aspects of technology which I find interesting." 


Carlos

Carlos Gonzalez Alvarez | B.A. in Mathematics and Economics 2024, Bates College

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "Data Justice Academy seemed like a program that perfectly provides the student with educational opportunities in Data Science and Programming and at the same time exposure to research. With a focus on Social Justice, the program feels like an opportunity to foster tangible change on current social issues, providing the student with a sense of purpose behind their work. Additionally, it felt like a welcoming experience, as the program is primarily targeted toward historically underrepresented groups."  

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope to get first-hand experience in research, the planning process, and the work leading to the final product. Similarly, I hope I can get insight into the industry when meeting with professionals during our trip to Washington DC. Lastly, with the lectures and activities, I hope I can further expand my knowledge and skills working with data and programming."


Nour

Nour Goulmamine | B.A. in Computer Science 2024, University of Virginia

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "As someone with an interest in both data science and social advocacy, I wanted to combine my passions to solve real-world issues."  

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope to gain more experience within data science and gain valuable insight on how [to] use my skills to make a tangible difference in my community."  

What are your career aspirations? "I intend on pursuing a career that works with data modeling and/or machine learning. My main interests lie within data science, bioinformatics, and software development."  



Kayla

Kayla Campbell | B.S. in Environmental Science; Minor Mathematics, Art History 2025, Spelman College                                           

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? I saw the Data Justice Academy as an opportunity for exploration. The application was shared with me by my data visualization lecture professor. Before this semester, data was not something I mainly concerned myself with. I always prided myself on not being ignorant to social causes, keeping myself informed, and remaining open-minded, but to a certain extent, I suppose. I never consciously concerned myself with data, but I have always been intrigued by the housing industry and housing injustice specifically. My interest is heavily due to my experience of growing up in the top ten most gentrified and geographically segregated city of Pittsburgh. I applied to the Data Justice Academy as although it has nothing to do with my major, it has everything to do with my future and how I must understand other communities' injustices in order to help my own.  

What do you hope to learn from this experience?                                  I hope to gain insight from my experience in the Data Justice Academy. As a part of the Housing Justice Atlas group, I will gain insight into housing injustice beyond what meets the eyes but the numbers and the research to back it. I have done research regarding academic essays in the past but never anything to this extent, and I am excited to learn and maintain this opportunity's strategies and experiences. Researching housing injustice and the statistics on eviction during the Covid-19 pandemic is not fun as these are real people's lives and truths. For that, I am gaining insight by associating stories with statistics. Building that connection is an experience worth having, a prime takeaway. Beyond the specific group topic, however, I expect the general research to assist in challenging me in my academics by opening my mind, making me a more critical thinker and a generally more knowledgeable and experienced learner.  


Sarah

Sarah Wimbish | B.A. in Computer Science 2024, University of Virginia


Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "The opportunity to live and work for the summer with other students who are also interested in data science is what ultimately drew me to apply for the Data Justice Program."

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope that this opportunity will provide me with clarity about what possibilities might await me after graduating. I am eager to gain practical and collaborative skills that will catalyze my career."  


Margaret

Margaret Harris | B.A. in Comparative Women's Studies 2025, Spelman College 

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope to gain more insight on how to bridge technology into the medical field."

What are your career aspirations? "Chemical Engineer with a focus in Pharmaceutical Development." 


Tijani

Tijani Musa, Grad Assistant | George Mason University 

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I originally applied for a school practicum requirement. After discussions with my soon-to-be-mentor (s), I learned that this opportunity is more than meeting a practicum requirement and the priority shifted to being a summer intern who is open to learning everything that the program is going to offer during these couple of months."

What are your career aspirations? "Industrial Hygienist or Public Health Data Analyst."


Dlaino

Dlaino Hanson | B.B.A. in Business Administration and Informative Systems 2022, Bowie State University

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "To gain meaningful and real-world insight and expertise towards understanding and analyzing data sets towards fulfilling project goals and objectives." 

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "I hope to learn more in-depth ways of configuring data sets in a useful way, as well as newer and concise methods towards efficient researching practices." 

What are your career aspirations? "I want to create a legacy that shows hard work, dedication, and a commitment towards being the best version of myself in the professional sector, showing a high capacity of both." 



Sherilouise

Sherilouise Scott-Dixon | B.S. in Computer Science; Minor Mass Communications 2022, Virginia State University

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied because my data science skills need more advancement."    

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "How to work on a team full of innovators."  

What are your career aspirations? "I want to start my own Tech Startup." 


Midian

Midian Johnson | B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology 2024, Spelman College

Why did you apply to the Data Justice Academy? "I applied to the University of Virginia’s Data Justice Academy because of its commitment to both mentored research, technical skills training, and fixing disparities within the data science field. I ultimately believed that by applying to this program I would be able to learn a lot about the technical skills that will support me in my career interests."  

What do you hope to learn from this experience? "From this experience, I hope to obtain valuable technical skills that will aid me in my development as a data scientist. In addition, I hope to expand my social and professional networks through this cohort experience. As well as be able to identify my strengths and values that can help me in my future career goals."  

What are your career aspirations? "Currently my career aspirations include working within Public Health research as a Biostatistician." 

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