George Mason University
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George Mason University

First Mason Engineering statistics seniors share common denominators

October 3, 2018   /   by Nanci Hellmich

First four Statistics graduates

Dillon Weier, Nhi Ngo, Charis Vaseghi, and Tammy Bui will be the first four students to graduate this spring with bachelor's degrees in statistics from Mason Engineering's Department of Statistics. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Statistics major Nhi Ngo plans to use her data analytics skills in the food industry. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Statistics students Dillon Weier, Tammy Bui, Nhi Ngo, and Charis Vaseghi, have several common denominators: 

  • They will be the first four students to graduate this spring with the new bachelor of science in statistics degree, which Mason Engineering's Department of Statistics began offering in fall 2017.
  • All four changed their majors when the new program was announced.
  • They believe their degrees will increase their odds of finding rewarding careers.
  • They’re cramming in three or four classes this semester and next, including their senior design project class, to finish their degrees on schedule.

Although they have a lot in common, each is pursuing this new major with different career goals in mind.

When Weier came to Mason, he planned to major in criminology in hopes of fulfilling his dream of working for the FBI. A statistics class inspired him to fine-tune that plan.

“The more statistics classes I took, the more interested I became,” the senior says. “There is so much more to it than just finding the ‘P’ value. I like problem-solving.”

Weier switched his major to statistics with a minor in criminology. His new goal: become a data analyst for the FBI or another crime-fighting group.

Bui’s original major was global affairs with a minor in statistics. She planned to become a diplomat. After taking a few stats classes, she realized the skills she was learning “could be applied anywhere.” She flipped her major and minor and wants to do data analysis work in global communications or social media.

“Statistics’ versatility is powerful, and in today’s world, data is limitless,” says Bui, an Honors College student. “The world is going to need those who know what to do with all this data.”

Ngo’s goal is to combine her interest in the food industry with her passion for big data. Last summer, she worked as a data intern doing sales analysis for CAVA, a Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant. She switched her major from math to statistics.

“Statistics and mathematics are super important in our everyday lives, whether we are checking weather predictions or counting down the days until the next Game of Thrones episode,” Ngo says. “Statistics is so interesting to me because you can create so many stories out of data." 

Charis Vaseghi, an Honors College student majoring in statistics, planned to pursue a degree that “required minimal math," but she found she loves telling a story with data. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Vaseghi agrees. “I have grown to love telling a story with data,” she says. “I love being able to take a collection of data, figure out what it’s saying, and quantify how much we can rely on what it’s saying.”

She planned to pursue a degree that “required minimal math,” majoring in public administration at first, then briefly in economics. Ultimately, statistics proved to be the right fit.

Vaseghi, who is also an Honors College student, believes she can apply her degree in any field—biology, banking, finance, industry—anywhere there is a need for “competent, ethical people” to interpret data.

"These students illustrate the diverse applications of statistics and data analytics in today’s workplace," says Elizabeth Johnson, assistant professor of statistics and the bachelor’s degree program coordinator. 

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