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From the Classroom to Data Science

Ever since I was in 10th grade, I’ve wanted to teach high school math. I was one of the lucky few who knew exactly what my major would be upon entering college. And it was exactly the right path for me. After college, I taught for five years in a public school in the county where I grew up. Then, wanting to leave Michigan and begin life in a new place, I scored a job at a private school in Colorado. Seven years later and my family (created in Colorado) signed up for a new adventure teaching and living at a boarding school in rural New York. Little did I know that last school year in New York would be the hardest of my career. 


As I struggled with the decision of whether to stay or leave and completely change my career, there were so many “what ifs” that ran through my mind. 


Would this decision be on my mind if I hadn’t struggled through a year of teaching during a pandemic? 


Would I want so desperately to move back to Colorado if I had formed a community or felt fully welcomed into the community at my new school? 


Would I be as called to leave teaching in a private school had I not read this compelling article about the absurdity of privilege in them this year?


Would I be leaving right now if I hadn’t had a cancer scare this Spring (just FYI: I’m cancer-free)?


There were simply too many variables to know. But I know each one of these things incrementally helped me to assess my values and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I will always have an incredible amount of respect for teachers. I knew that I no longer had the capacity to work in public schools (and I had let my certification lapse after being in the private school world for 8 years). I wanted to do something where I could make a social impact, and I wanted it to be a career that I would love. 


The moment I started exploring Data Science, I knew it was my next move. The logic of Python fits so well with how my math brain operates. And though I’m not a statistics expert (yet), I did get the opportunity to teach AP Statistics at my last school. I felt as prepared as humanly possible. I spoke with a friend who had left teaching and done the Data Science Immersive program at General Assembly. She assured me it would be a good fit. 


Transitioning to a career in Data Science felt like it fit neatly with one of my core beliefs. It comes from a quote by Nelson Mandela: 


Picture of quote by Nelson Mandela reading "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."


I think that Data, just like teaching, can be used to change the world. I want to be a part of that solution, and be able to have a career where I can work toward making the world a better place. That statement is simultaneously ambitious and vague. As I embark upon this new field and continue to learn more skills, I will have the tools to narrow down my goals and find a job that fits into my core values. Until then, I’ll continue to push myself to absorb every piece of information thrown at me in the immersive program and also continue to live my beliefs - changing the world starting from home. 


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