MSDS Residential Student Profile: Elisabeth Waldron

July 20, 2023

Elisabeth Waldron, MSDS Residential Student and Admissions AmbassadorElisabeth Waldron

M.S. in Data Science 2024, University of Virginia 
B.A. in Accounting and Minor in Computer Science 2023, Randolph Macon College

Richmond, VA

Q: Tell us about your path to data science.
While an undergraduate, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life so decided to be a finance major. When unsure, it's easy to default to business or accounting.
Eventually, my thoughts became more organized and I started thinking about want to pursue after college. Could I see myself crunching numbers in a cubicle for the rest of my life? I did not see any major issues with that path but didn't know if it would hold my interest in the long term.
The great thing about receiving a liberal arts degree is that you are exposed to so many courses outside of your major and minor. I stumbled across an Excel data analysis course that was a computational requirement for my accounting major and found the material intriguing. It exposed me to the “thought process” of the analytical field. My instructor convinced me to look into the data analytical/machine learning field. That’s when I decided to declare a minor in computer science—my school did not offer a data science major or minor—with the hopes of attending a graduate program afterward.

Q: What do you hope to do with a Data Science master’s degree? 
My goal is to initially get a job as a data analyst or engineer in order to gain experience. I'm not particular about the industry. After gaining real-world experience and knowledge, I would love to pursue a career in sustainability and climate change, racial and gender equity, and socioeconomic reforms.

Q: What has surprised you about the MSDS program so far? 
What has surprised me is the amount of collaboration required in each class and the connections you quickly make with classmates. 

Q: What has been your favorite part of the program so far and why? 
My favorite part is connecting with classmates. Everyone is in the same boat trying to figure out graduate life. The support classmates offers to one another will ensure we all get through the program successfully. Every time I or a classmate is struggling openly, there is always someone ready to acknowledge their frustration, offer assistance, and share their personal knowledge. 

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a master’s in data science? 
I would suggest looking up career paths that a data science degree can offer, and from there see the hard and soft skills needed to pursue each option. Afterward, look up prospective schools and ask their admissions officers for more details about their specific program and what they look for in a prospective candidate. 

Q: What are some fun facts about yourself? 
I was a member and leader of multiple inclusive student organizations in my undergraduate program. I was President of the Diversity Board in SGA, Vice President of For Women, Treasurer and acting VP of the Black Cultural Society, and member of Young Democrats and Habitat for Humanity. I hope with my master’s degree I will be able to transfer the leadership, humanitarian, and social skills acquired with these organizations into a career researching ways to promote equality and representation for future generations.