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A Commitment to Community Reaches 10-Year-Old at StatFest

1 May 2018 5,278 views No Comment
Adrian Coles and Reneé Moore
    From left: Nagambal Shah, Erica Dawson, Dawson Batemon, Brian Millen, and Reneé Moore. Millen was the keynote speaker for this year’s event. Photo by Jesse Chittams

    From left: Nagambal Shah, Erica Dawson, Dawson Batemon, Brian Millen, and Reneé Moore. Millen was the keynote speaker for this year’s event.
    Photo by Jesse Chittams

    Building supportive communities within our broad field helps create pipelines through which talented individuals from all backgrounds can enter into our discipline. One such pipeline is StatFest, which is a one-day conference aimed at encouraging undergraduate students from historically under-represented groups to consider careers and graduate studies in statistics.

    Organizers of StatFest typically endeavor to reach undergraduate and high-school students. However, they discovered their efforts to build community this year extended the pipeline to at least one person who is a bit younger.

    This year’s youngest attendee was 10-year-old Dawson Batemon, who accompanied his mother, Erica Dawson, as she balanced professional and family service.

    Erica is an epidemic intelligence officer at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was an invited panel speaker who has learned to use the often-unavoidable overlap between professional and personal life to her advantage.

    She says, “I felt extremely comfortable bringing my son to the workshop. Everyone welcomed and embraced him. StatFest has a sense of community that enables participation from parents, like myself.” Dawson has accompanied her to several events such as this year’s StatFest and been exposed to the same guidance and wisdom used to motivate high-school and undergraduate students.

    Dawson’s favorite subject in school is mathematics, and he uses his mathematical skills as a member of the LEGO Robotics Team at his school. Erica believes her love for mathematics and the support she has received from this community has contributed to his enjoyment of mathematics.

    She says, “He gets a lot of exposure to opportunities beyond high school and undergraduate studies. This normalizes the notion that people from under-represented groups can successfully earn advanced degrees in mathematical sciences.”

    Program Summary

    This year’s StatFest brought 150 students and professionals to Emory University to connect to and learn from graduate students; early career professionals; and established leaders in academia, industry, and government.

    In addition, participants benefited from panel discussions that addressed topics such as careers in statistics and the graduate student experience. Participants also took advantage of structured activities that helped enhance their networking skills.

    Former ASA President Sastry Pantula provided a special presentation that highlighted student opportunities within the ASA, while former ENAR president F. Dubois Bowman provided insight into how to prepare for graduate school admission.

    A special presentation was held in honor of Nagambal Shah, founder of StatFest. She was presented with flowers and a plaque to honor her initiation of this annual event and her continued contributions to the ASA’s Committee on Minorities in Statistics (CMS).

    The chair of this year’s StatFest Planning Committee was Reneé Moore, chair of the ASA’s CMS.

    StatFest 2018 will be held at Amherst College on September 22. Check the Committee on Minorities in Statistics website for more information if you are interested in participating in the next StatFest or the CMS’s other key initiative, the Diversity Mentoring Program.

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