Student Profile

Tereza Martinkova

Tereza’s (MS’24) warmth and kindness are an integral part of why she excels as a DSAN Teaching Assistant and an active member of the DSAN community!

Why did you choose the DSAN program at GU?

The DSAN program at GU was a good match for me in several aspects. Washington, D.C. was already my number one choice location-wise, but in terms of the program itself, I was looking for something that would offer a good transition from just graduating college to entering graduate school, which the DSAN program was one of the few to provide. Additionally, as a Business and Economics major in college, I was looking for programs that would offer classes focusing on those aspects too. I was excited that the program director was teaching the Applied Time Series class, which was one of the classes I was most looking forward to. As part of my research for graduate schools, I looked up the publications of the full-time professors in the program, and specifically, Dr. Gamage’s paper topics were something I was interested in, which only supported my decision to apply to the DSAN program. Finally, looking at the core classes and electives, all of them seemed very intriguing and like something I would want to learn more about.

Who had the greatest influence on your career path/education path?

My parents have supported me throughout my entire educational journey by encouraging me to challenge myself and having my back no matter what. But when I was a junior in college, I started to figure out which career path was right for me, and data science wasn’t something I thought of immediately, mainly because I didn’t know much about it. One day, I was talking to a family friend about which programs to apply to for graduate school, and I was focusing on business analytics. His response was, “I thought you liked coding, why don’t you apply to data science programs instead?” and that was the first time I started thinking about and researching it. I don’t think I would have gotten into data science without having this conversation and I am so grateful for it.

What do you find most rewarding about being a Graduate Teaching Assistant?

For both of the classes where I was a graduate teaching assistant, I had taken the classes in the previous semester. Knowing what parts I found challenging or felt needed improvement helped a lot in understanding how to approach those issues. For example, in my Time Series class, there was one homework assignment that was significantly longer and more challenging than the others. Therefore, I made sure to provide additional instructions and advised the students to set aside more time for that specific assignment to ensure they didn’t struggle like I did. Many of the projects the students are working on are a passion for them, and it is extremely rewarding to see their projects become very complex and successful with the help I was able to provide.

What is your favorite class in the DSAN program?

My absolute favorite class in this program is the Computer Linguistics class. Professor Trevor Adriaanse has prepared a very intriguing syllabus that, combined with his talent for lecturing, makes the class not only interesting but also captivating. It is by no means an easy class, but it is definitely one from which anyone will learn a lot. The class focuses on object-oriented programming, a very common practice in the industry, and natural language processing, which is widely used among data scientists. Professor Trevor ensures that everyone understands all the concepts in every lecture and that the students are capable of applying them in their own projects. The final project of this class involves coding and presenting software that we developed in groups. This is an amazing learning experience because we learn how to program our part of the task in a way that the rest of the team can understand, we learn how to communicate in a team where people might have different approaches to coding, how to design software well, and last but not least, how to present our ideas to the rest of the class in a captivating manner.

Any advice you’d give prospective students?

  • Putting in the hard work pays off.
  • Never be too shy to ask for help.
  • Study groups are great for all kinds of support.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I used to compete in downhill skiing and have been windsurfing since I was 7 years old. These are also the two activities I engage in during the breaks between semesters. They always give me so much energy and motivation to work hard through the upcoming semester! Also, I got to go skiing with some of the other DSAN students recently, and it was so much fun! For some, this was their first time skiing, and they did absolutely amazing!

You’re graduating in May (2024)! What was your favorite DSAN experience?

My favorite DSAN experience was either the DataKind Hackathon or one of the game nights. I really enjoyed the DataKind Hackathon because I got to work with many different people from the industry, and we had an amazing team leader, Amelia Baier. We worked with a non-profit organization called Rise Boro to help them optimize their delivery route. We got to discover new Python libraries, such as GeoPy’s Photon, for mapping. The DSAN game nights are a lot of fun as well. I don’t think you get to see people try to enact ‘descending gradient’ as part of Fishbowl anywhere else. Besides that, it is a great chance to get to know people with whom you might have had no classes or you hadn’t had the chance to talk to before.

If you could have any superpower what would it be, and why?

If I could have any superpower, it would definitely be to teleport. I love to travel, and there is so much I would love to see not only in the US but also around the world. My top destination on my travel bucket list right now is Singapore, but finding the time to go might be challenging. So, teleportation all the way!