Sandra Masibayi

Class Year

’21

Hometown

Nairobi, Kenya

Major(s)

Data Science, Mathematics

“Data science is the present and will be the future. Data powers everything, and it is needed in every business and company.”

Sandra Masibayi, ’21

Career goal

“I am currently admitted at University of Southern California to obtain my master’s degree in biomedical engineering/biomedical data analytics for fall 2021. I intend to build on my research curiosity and hopefully offer deeper insights when learning how to apply my data science skills in the biomedical industry.

“I am also interviewing with Google for a role in their data centers in California. I am torn between corporate life and graduate school at the moment, though I am sure that I will be happy with either as I am passionate about data and willing to transform it to solve problems, regardless of what setting. That’s how much love I have for data!”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“I can’t explain how grateful I am to Carthage faculty, staff, non-teaching staff, my advisors, and my peers for the impact they have made in my life while at Carthage. Despite a number of challenges here and there, I am glad I had a strong support system around me. Their support encouraged me to keep reaching higher and higher.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class at Carthage was Social Problems by Professor Timothy Johnson in fall 2017. I love politics, and I am passionate about social justice, and this class sparked so many important conversations that helped me understand some societal issues and how to work with others to improve the situation at hand. It is through my professors’ help and guidance that I also started volunteering at Boys’ and Girls’ Club – Kenosha.”

Campus involvement

“I had the honor of being a member of a number of clubs and organizations at Carthage. Some of the organizations that had the greatest impact on my life during my four years at Carthage are the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, Sigma Alpha Pi, Black Student Union, United Women of Color, Data Science Club, and Woods and Waters. I was honored to serve as the vice president of the Black Student Union, the vice president of United Women of Color, and the secretary of the Data Science Club.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class at Carthage was Real Analysis. It was a class I had dreaded since freshman year. Every mathematics major would warn you about it. I remember telling Professor Mark Snavely that I was struggling, and he worked hard to help me and to make sure I understood the material. Even so, it was still challenging, but I am grateful that I did not drop my math major. Actually, around when I was planning to withdraw from the class, I remember receiving an email inviting me to be inducted to Pi Mu Epsilon, the Math National Honor Society. My mother claimed it was a sign to hang in there and I am glad I did.”

Internships or on-campus employment

“I had the opportunity to work three work-study jobs on campus. I’ve worked in media services as an information and media technology assistant since my freshman year. I was also the personal assistant to the director of tutoring, and I worked for Sodexo at Starbucks and the Red Zone. Working on campus not only helped me connect with my peers, colleagues, and staff, but it also gave me an opportunity to grow and get out of my comfort zone.

“As for internships, I had the honor to intern at DIFFvelopment in New Jersey in 2019 as a business analyst consultant and entrepreneurship intern. I also interned at Local Labs as a data analyst intern in the fall of 2020. I got the opportunity through my classmate who also ended up being my supervisor there! It was a good experience, and it helped me learn to use my time in the most efficient way since I was still working on campus, studying for my graduate record examination test, and applying to graduate school.”

Opportunities at Carthage

“I got to start working in biomedical research in fall of 2020 on the relapse of vitiligo after UVB light therapy with the help and guidance of visiting associate professor, Professor Andrew Funk.”

Scholarships

“I am a Zawadi Scholar. Carthage had a partnership with the Zawadi Africa Educational Fund to fund the full cost of attendance of one student from the organization based on merit. This scholarship has been the plane to my next layover, so to speak, as it has opened my mind to newer possibilities and opportunities, broadened my mindset, led to my growth, and introduced me to lifelong friends.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“Some of my best memories are waking up to the beautiful sunrises on the lake from my dorm room. I wish I could carry the view with me always! Commencement is another favorite memory of mine at Carthage as the whole procession led me to reflect on all the times I doubted myself on my journey but still got up and picked up the pieces. It was a very emotional day for me as it marked another milestone in my journey. I now know I was right for picking Carthage from the beginning. Lastly, one of my favorite memories was when the data science major was approved, and Prof. Snavely emailed me to confirm the news. I was so happy and excited as the last piece of the puzzle worked out for me.”

Favorite spot on campus

“I loved the sixth-floor lounge in The Tower, the beach on the lake, and the gym in the TARC all equally. I’m always at one of these three places.”

Biggest surprise so far

“The world will give you what you want if you are willing to work for it and endure the challenges and sacrifices. I also asked for help from anyone whenever I got stuck, and I was surprised at how so many people helped me through all my challenges.”

What would your 8-year-old self think of you now?

“I think my 8-year-old self would be proud and content that I was brave enough to trust in the process. I am not the doctor most African parents push their children to be, but I am becoming the data engineer the world needs right now and in the future. My 8-year-old self would be grateful to my mum for being patient with my undying curiosity and love for adventure that led me to pursue a dream that I had no idea would turn into my passion.”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“Data science is the present and will be the future. Data powers everything, and it is needed in every business and company. As economist Ronald Coase said, ‘Torture the data and it will confess anything.’ Therefore, if you are curious and creative, do not be afraid to explore all the options and tools you can use to understand your data. Be self-driven, procreative, and always ask your professors for help. They will help you so much! Lastly, do not be afraid to play with data. It is meant to communicate something and offer an insight or solution.”

Why Carthage?

“I chose Carthage because of the alumni reputation, small student-faculty ratio, and the lake. Also, Carthage was my pathway to NASA as I had a great interest in programming for NASA. However, this changed in my sophomore year after taking Statistics and Data Science 1 classes. Every piece of the puzzle came together, even after changing my majors and minors almost every semester in my first two years.”