Bridget Daly, class of 2013, was a “lifer,” attending Duchesne from Pre-K through 12th grade. After graduating, Bridget double majored in Applied Math & Statistics and Psychology at Notre Dame. She began her career as a Data Scientist at 84.51°, a Kroger subsidiary, in Cincinnati, Ohio where she worked for three and a half years. Bridget is currently earning her Master’s in Statistics at Stanford University and will graduate in March 2022. This summer she interned as a Data Scientist for Roblox. She shares her perspective with us on how she found her career path, how Duchesne impacted her journey, and how she plans to apply her background in data science to the future of healthcare.
How did you find your passion for data science, and what is your favorite aspect of working in the tech and data industry?
Entering college, I felt my strengths best aligned with STEM-fields, but engineering and lab-based sciences didn’t appeal to me so I chose to major in Applied Math & Statistics. A lot of people in the program became actuaries, so I started down that path but was ambivalent about it. Wandering around a career fair, I found this company called 84.51° that was using data to improve the shopping experience for customers at Kroger. That sounded more interesting than insurance, so I ended up interning then working there full-time. At 84.51°, I discovered that data science is a great fit for me. I love how dynamic the role is; there are endless learning opportunities as programming languages and interfaces evolve and as datasets grow in size and arise from new sources. Each project presents unique challenges and requires a mix of many skills to come up with the right approach to solve the problem at hand and communicate the outcome.
How did attending Duchesne lay the foundation for where you are today?
Attending Duchesne gave me a lot of self-confidence. I didn’t doubt my ability to succeed academically in college or in pursuing a male-dominated career path. Duchesne’s emphasis on the Sacred Heart goals has been important in shaping my personal and professional goals. I look for a company that respects its employees and gives them freedom to shape their path, that encourages a sense of community over competition, and that values social awareness whether through the company mission or by encouraging employees to devote time volunteering. I don’t think I would care about these criteria as much if Duchesne hadn’t focused on their importance in our education.
What advice would you share with current Duchesne high school students?
Keep an open mind about your future, and don’t feel pressured to figure it out by the time you graduate. I felt like I had to decide exactly what I wanted to do after college before I even started college in order to take the right classes and participate in the right extracurriculars, but that’s absolutely not the case. High school and college provide you with so many opportunities to explore different interests, and you should take full advantage of that. There are careers, majors, and courses available that you won’t have even heard of but that might be a great fit for your skills and interests.
What are you most looking forward to in graduate school and about your career after finishing school?
The first year of my master’s degree was completely virtual, so I am looking forward to going to class in person and interacting with my peers this year. Having worked for a few years, I am more aware of the gaps in my knowledge and my specific interests within data science than I was in undergrad. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to focus in depth on those areas in grad school then apply what I’ve learned in my career after graduation. I’m excited to find the right company to continue my career, hopefully related to healthcare, where I will be challenged and motivated to use my data science skills to make an impact.
What do you see as the future of data science in the healthcare industry?
Data science, especially machine learning, is already starting to improve access to healthcare and hospital efficiency, accelerate drug discovery and disease understanding and diagnosis, and give people greater control over their health and well-being through direct-to-consumer tests and services. I think data science will only continue to increase its impact in these areas, especially as data collection becomes more feasible. DNA is a great example; sequencing the first human genome cost upwards of one billion dollars but a whole genome sequence now costs below $1,000, making a future of personalized medicine much more attainable.