Online MSDS Student Council

February 18, 2021

Meet the online MSDS Student Council! Learn more about where they are from, their positions on student council, and why they chose data science. 

Online Student Council Mission

President: Jon Gómez

Where are you from? Jon Gómez

I'm a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, though I was born in California.

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

I love the opportunity to help build up the student council as an organization by students for students.

Why did you choose data science?

I studied mathematics in undergrad, and I work as a programmer.  Data science is a wonderful intersection of my interests and roles.  I also see it as increasingly relevant to our world, especially in the realm of scientific investigation.


Cohort Advocate: Robel Semuneges 

Where are you from?Robel Semunegus 

Woodbridge, VA

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

I’m excited to impact the online MSDS program at a meaningful level and contribute to its growth as a relatively new program. I look forward to help make the program beneficial to current cohorts and appealing to future cohorts as well. 

Why did you choose data science? 

I chose data science for several reasons: the relevancy to my undergraduate majors, its relevancy on today’s (and future) society, and its massive applicability.


Engagements/Events Chair: Camille Leonard

Where are you from? Camille Leonard

I’m originally from the Tampa Bay Area and have lived in Roanoke, VA for the last five years.

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

I’m most excited about facilitating connections and networking between students. One of the strengths of this program is the diversity of the students. Now is the time to forge new connections and expand our networks. Building a sense of community amongst students will also make the program more enjoyable and welcoming. With online learning it’s easy to feel disconnected, I’d like to get our students as connected with the program and other students.

Why did you choose data science?

The world continues to leverage more and more data in its decision making. Data pipelines and AI / ML algorithms, however, disproportionately lack sufficient data of minority and negatively impact disadvantaged groups. Because of that policies and systems are built that further disadvantage these populations. I chose to pursue data science to help advocate for these groups and ensure data and the models they train are fair and equitable.


Ombudswoman/VP: Loren Bushkar

Where are you from? Loren Bushkar

This question tricks me up more than it should. I grew up in Richmond, Va but spent ten years in NYC and now have been in Washington, D.C. for seven. Oh, and in normal times, I spend a lot of time on airplanes so I really consider myself a citizen of the world.

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

I'm looking forward to further meeting classmates from across cohorts and forging relationships with faculty to continue to evolve the online program as it grows!

Why did you choose data science?

Data has always been important in financial services but now more than ever. The opportunities of innovation are unprecedented but we must appropriately balance that against the risks of bias and ethical considerations of the use of data. My hope is to speak both the languages of business and data science effectively as we navigate this balance.


Student Ambassador/liaison: Paul Hicks

Where are you from? Paul Hicks

Fairfax, Va.

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

I look forward to encouraging prospective students from various backgrounds to give the program and UVA the opportunity and privilege to help them grow. I have a fairly lengthy (but not too long) history with the University and appreciate the chance to give back, even in small ways.

Why did you choose data science?

I see enormous potential and opportunity to better inform our fellow global citizens through data. By doing so, I think we will see societal change in individual and collective decision making for the greater good. We have the chance to better understand inequality, injustice and the negative implications of how our lives are evolving. Let's do something positive about it.


Student Ambassador/Liaison: Travis Vitello

Where are you from? Travis Vitello

Charlotte, NC

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

The opportunity to share my experiences in the program with prospective future 'Hoos

Why did you choose data science?

Data is everywhere, and this program is outstanding in preparing students for tackling all sorts of real-world data problems.


Administrative Chair: Edward Thompson

Where are you from? Edward Thompson

Born in Canada, grew up in California, undergrad and grad school (the first time) in the midwest, traveled and moved a fair bit, now living in Nashville.

What are you most excited about in regards to your position?

As an engineer I love making systems work.  I believe that there is huge potential in the online cohort and extending knowledge from students in the 5th term to students who are starting their first term.

Why did you choose data science?

I’ve been immersed in data for my career in engineering in test, safety and risk management.  I’m interested in not only the big trends within the data, but also the outliers and how they shape our results.  Are they bad data, human or sensor errors, or indicators that not everything is working exactly as expected?