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My ASA Story: Lydia Gibson, Graduate Student

1 August 2023 848 views 2 Comments
Photo of Lydia Gibson, wearing a button-down blouse

Lydia Gibson

In the winter of 2021, following the economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to change careers and pursue an MS in statistics in hopes of increasing my earning potential and, in turn, making a better life for myself. Like many other students who attend minority-serving institutions, I do not come from a background of generational wealth, but I understand the value of a college education.

I am not a first-generation college student, but I am a first-generation American. I’m the daughter of immigrant parents and the only member of my family to pursue graduate studies in STEM. As such, I had to figure out a lot of my new educational and career goals without the aid of my family but, taking a cue from my sister’s participation in the National Society of Black Engineers, I decided a good first step would be to join a professional society.

When I first joined the American Statistical Association in August of 2021, I had no idea just how big of an impact that one decision would have on my life. Like many other students, I joined with the hope of increasing my job prospects through networking and making invaluable connections with professional statisticians, but I came away with that and much, much more. On top of helping to advance my career, my involvement with the ASA allowed me to hone my leadership skills and strengthen my ability to advocate for myself and others.

One of my earliest experiences and the motivation for my continued active participation within the ASA community was the 2021 Joint Statistical Meetings. There, I met my mentor, Teri Utlaut, whom I work alongside as a data scientist at Intel. It was also at JSM that I first learned about the ASA Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Outreach Group from Kim Sellers, the JEDI inaugural chair who later nominated me to co-chair the JEDI Student and Young Professional’s Committee alongside Robert Tumasian III. My attendance at JSM was also the catalyst for my schoolmates and me to co-found the ASA student chapter at our alma mater, California State University East Bay.

Knowing how transformative joining the ASA and attending conferences such as JSM has been for me, I developed the drive and passion to help other students—especially my schoolmates—gain access to resources that help them along their career journeys. As co-founder and president of the California State University East Bay ASA Student Chapter, that drive manifested as efforts to find opportunities and the means for my organization’s members to network with professional statisticians and data scientists. That, in turn, resulted in the student chapter ASA speaker series events, my student chapter members volunteering for and sponsoring the 2022 holiday party for the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and several of us attending the 2023 Conference on Statistical Practice.

Photo of eight individuals all members of the California State University ASA Student Chapter

Lydia (far right) with ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein and several members of the California State University ASA Student Chapter

    Attending CSP 2023 has been one of my most rewarding ASA experiences to date. Thanks to the funding I received from the California State University East Bay Department of Statistics and Biostatistics and the 2023 Lingzi Lu Memorial Award, I was able to experience all CSP had to offer. This included attending the full-day course titled “Hands-On Python Programming for Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning”; the tutorial titled “How to Make Outstanding Statistical Presentations”; and various talks, panels, and poster presentations. A couple of my classmates also received funding from our department to cover their registration fees, while others were able to attend thanks to the ASA’s Student and Early Career Travel Fund.

    Following CSP, I once again witnessed the transformative power of attending ASA conferences when my schoolmate Alicia Alvarez secured a summer internship at Virginia Tech’s CUBE (Collaborative Undergraduate Biostatistics Experience) program for underrepresented undergraduates in STEM, all through connections she made at CSP.

    As my time as a statistics student comes to an end, I look forward to embarking on new adventures as a graduate statistician. I plan to continue actively participating in the ASA community as both a member and leader, including by serving as the 2024–2026 Council of Sections representative for the Statistical Computing Section.

    My journey will also consist of paying it forward by serving as a mentor to and advocating for other statistics students, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. The ASA and its conferences have been immeasurably beneficial to me, so I hope to help other early-career folks reap these benefits, as well.

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    • B warner said:

      Congratulations Lydia!

      Beautifully done! What an amazing journey. Your path to greatness, has just began. Your future looks amazing. Your parent I are very proud of you.


      Congratulations Lydia! I am currently contemplating which area of Statistics to pursue. Without a mentor or guidance, I feel lost… I just so happened to Google statistics association and came across your story.

      Your story is inspiring and has motivated me to stay positive and keep pushing!

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