Anam (’23) was awarded the Exceptional Masters Student Award by the Georgetown Graduate School as a first-year student in the Spring of 2022.
Anam’s empathy and kindness inform her perspective of the world and her commitment to effecting social impact through her work.
Journey to DSAN
The search for self-discovery was the catalyst that led Anam to DC and the DSAN program. As an undergrad, she was unsure as to what she wanted to do. She chose pre-med/biology at first, quickly realizing that it was not the direction she wanted to go. After being undecided for a time, Anam eventually decided to major in finance. It was in one of her finance classes, a statistics class, that her professor first introduced her to the fundamentals of data science, working in R-script. The experience led Anam to take classes in computer science and business technology, and something clicked. It was too late to pivot into a data major, but she had been bitten by the data science bug.
As she began to work in the finance sector, Anam found that she did not feel the same passion for finance and economics that her peers did. It was a time of great self-reflection for her as she worked to figure out which direction she wanted her career to take. She realized that when choosing a major at 18 or 19 years old, you don’t always have all of the information about what you will gravitate towards. As her finance career progressed, her stats professor continued to further her interest in data science; she even helped him to write a statistics textbook. When he started a data science master’s program in Florida, Anam looked inward and realized that while she wanted to pursue a master’s in the field, she wanted to strike out on her own and try somewhere new.
Finding her Niche
“I like the way you can get the gist of a whole story based on the data. There’s a lot of data out there, and a lot of things that I feel aren’t analyzed. In one of my first projects in my first semester, we analyzed the quality of life for the queer community and the LGBTQ community. It was, surprisingly, pretty difficult to find data on that and to do any sort of actual analysis with that.” In her time here Anam has found herself inspired by the use of data storytelling as a catalyst for social impact. She is intrigued by the idea that you can create a factual story, using data, that motivates people to pay attention, to take action; that you can combine coding and data science with social change.
In affecting social impact through data storytelling, one has to be aware of inherent biases. Anam shared that many of the DSAN professors emphasize how important it is not to let your biases interfere with the story you’re telling with your data. One example she shared was when “analyzing queer life, I definitely had a lot of biases while I was doing that, and I was realizing that a lot of them were not what I thought. Because I remember doing something for analyzing just pay disparity. And in my mind, I was like, ‘oh, they’re probably getting paid less.’ It was interesting because that wasn’t really the disparity I was seeing in the data. It was more so men and women [with a pay disparity].” Anam also highlighted the distinct difference between data bias and the perspective from which you are presenting the data. “That’s why we have all these perspectives, and we have all these different kinds of people [in the field] because we don’t really want to hear the same story over and over again by the same type of person. Who you are, plays a role in the kind of data analysis that you do.”
“Anam is an exceptional student who is intelligent and actively participates in the classroom as well as in the program. She won the Georgetown University Exceptional Master’s Student award out of many nominees from different programs. She was an amazing TA who helped students significantly and she has proven herself as a great mentor and team player. Anam is very smart and kind and I have no doubt that she will continue to make valuable contributions to any team or organization she becomes a part of.”Dr. Purna Gamage, DSAN Program Director
A Force for Change
Advanced Data Visualization(ANLY-503) was an incredibly helpful class for Anam’s current job working part-time for a data science consulting company, Demographic Analytics Advisors, that focuses on non-profit consulting. The founder of the company is a senior fellow at MDI with whom Anam connected through a fellow DSAN student. After interning for the company over the summer, she was asked to stay on through her final year in the program. Her current work at Demographic is on a project that seeks to propose new ways to count Asian populations in the U.S. Census, as there has historically been a significant amount of error in how that particular population is reported. The hope is that this will highlight the need to investigate why this is happening and how to fix it, as it is not an issue isolated to the Asian community. The publication they will soon be releasing will have Anam’s name on it!`
With her graduation date in May approaching, Anam finds herself excited at the prospect of forging her path. When asked what advice she would give current and future students she highlighted the importance of taking advantage of all the resources the DSAN program offers. “Your professors are super eager to help. Go to events and meet your fellow students. Finding people on the same path can be so helpful as you move through the journey of graduate school and the DSAN program. Engage with the program. This program is more than just your classes each week.”
In Her Free Time
“I’ve gotten back into cooking, baking is a little harder, so I don’t do it as often. I cook a lot of pasta!” She enjoys cooking Pakistani food with her mom when she goes home, and she cooks the “easier” Pakistani food in her own kitchen. Her favorite Pakistani dish is Nihari, a beef stew, and paratha, a flat and flaky bread.