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My ASA Story: Lana Huynh, Statistics Student

1 May 2023 1,269 views 4 Comments
Lana Huynh, an Asian woman, stands in front of a purple backgound that has the San Francisco State University logo repeating across it. She is smiling and holding a laptop displaying her research and a certificate.

Huynh traveled to San Francisco to present her research at the 2022 Quality and Productivity Research Conference.

I entered my first year of college at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, as a statistics major when courses were online. Although resources and opportunities were limited due to the nature of college not being in person, the statistics department did an excellent job of making me and other students feel supported.

The professors adjusted to an online medium, and I thought I grasped the material well. Faculty and, most notably, department chair Andrew Schaffner shared numerous resources and opportunities with students. Additionally, the Cal Poly Stat Club held multiple virtual meetings and events such as an internship panel, research panel, sports analytics talk, etc.

The department also offered a summer research program for 10 students, which I applied for in my first year in hopes of gaining statistics experience outside the classroom. I was accepted and, for the next two years, I worked with Billie-Jo Grant on a project involving educator sexual misconduct.

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an ASA member was presenting my research at the 2022 Quality and Productivity Research Conference in San Francisco, California …

As the statistics department at Cal Poly provided so many opportunities, I wanted to contribute in return and take on a leadership position so I could have a larger impact on the organization. I was elected the Stat Club liaison in my second year and Stat Club president my third year. Through social events such as bonfires and bowling nights sponsored by the American Statistical Association, students were able to take a break from academics and bond with their peers in a more casual setting. The ASA also helped our club find talented guest speakers such as Wendy Martinez, former ASA president, to inform members about working in their respective fields.

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an ASA member was presenting my research at the 2022 Quality and Productivity Research Conference in San Francisco, California, where I was funded by the National Science Foundation. At first, I felt a sense of imposter syndrome being the only undergraduate student of 28 poster presenters. However, the more people I presented to, the more confident I became in myself and my research. I received a number of intelligent questions, and learning to answer these questions on the spot enriched my communication skills.

A couple of months later, I was funded by the Frost Research Program to attend the 2022 Joint Statistical Meetings in Washington, DC. I attended continuing education courses, roundtables, and sessions to learn more about niche subfields of statistics.

After a roundtable where we discussed small area estimation, someone came up to me and asked if I knew a faculty member at my school named Heather Smith because he used to work with her. I said, “yes,” and we discussed my interest in statistical consulting. This connection inspired me to go to the consulting mixer that evening.

Initially, I felt like I stuck out because most people were decades older than me, but the student liaison, David Agboola, welcomed me, shared many resources, and helped me form even more connections in the consulting community. 

Upon returning home from JSM, I felt inspired to seek opportunities for developing my statistics skills in projects from different fields. With that goal, I began shadowing the rotating statistical consultant at Cal Poly. I currently shadow Smith (a full-circle moment), and I have been able to apply my statistical knowledge to real projects. As most clients do not have a strong data or statistics background, figuring out how to effectively communicate statistical ideas has been a valuable learning experience.

Overall, being part of the Stat Club at Cal Poly in tandem with attending conferences by the ASA has been extraordinarily beneficial for my academic career and personal development. Stat Club has taught me how to be a strong leader through relationship building and event planning. I look forward to the opportunity to continue organizing meetings and events for Stat Club and encouraging students to take advantage of all the school’s resources. Additionally, the ASA has exposed me to statistics beyond the university setting, and I have expanded my connections and network outside of Cal Poly.

The ASA community has given me a lot, and I’d like to continue being an active member of the organization and eventually take on leadership roles.

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  • Tiffany Le said:

    Your story is so inspiring. What an amazing opportunity Cal Polytech at San Luis Obispo has given doors to future generations. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Robert Huynh said:

    Congrats Lana for doing such a great job.

  • Henry Hai Mai said:

    You are amazing. I’m so proud of you. Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience. I wish you good luck in your life❤️

  • Charlie Chen said:

    I’m so proud of you Lana! Keep up your enthusiasm, diligence, and commitment in all that you do in and out of the classroom. I can’t wait to see the amazing things you’ll continue to accomplish, but more importantly, seeing you embrace the leader you were born to be!

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