On May 26, 2021, Executive Director of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub Florence Hudson spoke to students participating in Professor Yusuf Danisman’s Data Science Training and Research Program at Queensborough Community College. This program, aimed at enhancing students’ coding and data science skills, is the first of its kind at the community college, a minority-serving institution located in Queens, NY, and was supported by a Northeast Hub seed fund grant. Throughout the Spring 2021 semester, the students learned about Python programming and data science and machine learning fundamentals, applying their new knowledge in a final group capstone project.
During her talk, Hudson highlighted the ways Professor Danisman’s students and all data science students could continue to leverage their technical and teamwork skills to make a positive impact on their community and others. From her own story of being raised by her grandparents to becoming a student at Princeton University, an aerospace engineer at NASA, Vice President at IBM, and CEO of her own consulting firm, Hudson encouraged students to refuse to become a victim of their circumstances and continue to believe in their abilities and potential. Emphasizing the importance of practicing leadership, Hudson suggested that students explore opportunities to serve in not-for-profits and on organizations’ junior advisory boards. Hudson also introduced the numerous opportunities available through the Northeast Hub’s new Research Experience and Leadership Program, a volunteer program for students in various educational programs to participate in projects making scientific and societal impact across the focus areas of the Hub–Health, Education and Data Literacy, Responsible Data Science, and Urban to Rural Communities. As REAL volunteers, students can record educational data science videos, mentor other students, help facilitate community-wide events, and more.
By the end of the talk, several students had signed up to become REAL volunteers. In all, this discussion reminds us that data science is powerful, and growing every day in its potential to create change. From conducting ground-breaking research on issues impacting communities to serving as a teacher or mentor, there is something we can all do to learn and leverage data science for good.