How did the Alumni Network help you?

One of my module leaders, Dr Annalisa Occhipinti, brought a member of the Alumni Network outreach programme to talk to my class about the Black Internship Programme. This was my first time I had heard of it and I applied immediately. This talk assisted greatly in providing information about the internship.

How did your interest in data science start?

I started my career from Nigeria as a statistician specialising in health and have been doing research for almost a decade now.

I attended a conference in Toulouse in 2018 to find out more about how statistics have been moving more into the data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence field. This got me interested in moving my career more into this area of research. In my country there are no courses in data science, so I came to Teeside University to do another master’s degree, in applied data science.

What sort of things did you do in your internship?

My host organisation, IDEMS International, focuses on innovations in development, education, and mathematical sciences. They have developed a number of mobile apps and I was working with data from the WASH app, which is for water and sanitation.

What benefits did the internship bring?

There were many benefits, like getting practical experience working with mobile apps. But there is so much else in addition to what you learn from being placed with a host organisation.

For example, there are competitions where the students are put into groups. I was the leader of my group for the diabetes competition and I learned so much. And then, there are Friday afternoon sessions which bring all the interns together and allow you to meet experts from different fields.

Would you encourage other people to apply for the Black Internships?

I’ve been doing this a lot already. I’ve been trying to encourage people to apply, giving them links and telling them about all of the advantages it brings. There are just so many skills you learn as an intern; it is a very good thing.

Are you part of the Alumni Network now?

Yes, it’s really important. After the closing ceremony, I joined the Alumni Network and that has given me access to many other people. I have been able to connect with researchers in all sorts of fields as well. It has really widened my scope beyond what I was doing before.

What are your hopes or ambitions after your MSc?

I plan to get a job in data analysis. Perhaps in a university. I used to teach before I came to the UK and it’s something that I like. I would also like to apply data science in health research.

How can the Alumni Network outreach programme help other students?

I would like to see more universities get involved with the outreach programme so that the Alumni Network can encourage students to consider a career in health data science by organising a seminar, and doing talks, to sensitise them to the need for health data science and how it can benefit human health.

Serifat’s interest in health data science was also prompted by personal experience. Her second son was hospitalised with jaundice after birth, prompting her to research and publish a paper helping to predict which newborn babies would present with the condition.

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