George Mason University
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George Mason University

Stats student crunches numbers to pave path to success in class and in life

March 12, 2020   /   by Nanci Hellmich

“I am so happy I’m here. The Stats Department faculty is amazing. There are so many opportunities and contacts at Mason, and there are so many internship opportunities being close to D.C.”

— Brody Receveur, statistics major

Brody Receveur, a statistics major at Mason, is doing a statistical analysis of the needs of refugees in South Sudan for an Honors College research class.

Brody Receveur knew the odds were good he’d major in statistics at Mason, and his first statistics class confirmed it.

“I had Professor (Elizabeth) Johnson for Stat 260. Some of the first words she said were, ‘In statistics, we play in everybody’s sandbox.’

“I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’ I knew I had found my place,” says Receveur, who’ll graduate in the spring of 2021 with a BS in statistics.

“I am someone who loves to work in everything, and I have a general interest in helping in all ways I can. The statistics degree provides me a platform to do that on an advanced level.”

He’s going full-steam ahead, inside and outside the classroom.

An Honors College student, Receveur works as a peer mentor for Mason Engineering, serves as co-president of Mason chapter of the American Statistical Association, and in April, he’ll participate in the DC DataFest, a weekend-long data competition in which teams of undergraduates work around the clock to find and share meaning in a large, rich, and complex data set.

He’s also doing a statistical analysis of the needs of refugees in South Sudan for an Honors College research class. His data analysis includes a breakdown of non-food needs, such as emergency shelters and mosquito nets.

To make the data easier to understand, he taught himself geographic information systems, a graphic framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data.

He says the project is still in its infancy as he works on determining what information will be the most useful for peacemaking in South Sudan. “The whole point of the project is to help as many people as possible,” he says.

Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Statistics, says, “Brody is an exceptional student scholar. He loves the research process. He will be attending a highly selective statistical genetics and biostatistics summer research program at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and also hopes to complete a fall semester abroad at Oxford.”

Receveur’s life is so tightly packed, he has a schedule in his smartphone for every hour of his day. “I’m not someone who is a fan of being bored.”

To balance his number-crunching life, he decompresses by lifting weights, doing Muay Thai kickboxing, cooking, playing guitar, praying, meditating, and playing board games with friends.

Receveur from Fredricksburg, Virginia, says the university has been a great fit for him. When trying to decide between Mason, the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech—he was accepted by all three—he set up a mathematical model to predict which would work best for him.

 “I did a weighting system where I weighted different variables in different contexts. After I did the math and Mason won, I breathed a sigh of relief and said to myself, ‘If I knew I wanted to go to Mason, why did I do that?’ ”

No matter how he arrived at his decision, he says, “I am so happy I’m here. The Stats Department faculty is amazing. There are so many opportunities and contacts at Mason, and there are so many internship opportunities being close to D.C.”

Mason is giving him the chance to do what he likes best. “I’m always thinking about numbers, ideas, and big concepts, as well. My brain doesn’t stop.”

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