The program asked some of its students to speak about their experiences in the program. Their testimonials are shared below.
Yesenny Fernandez is a Data Analyst and Data Visualization specialist, currently working at the Mayor's Office of Ethnic and Community Media (MOECM). Prior to enrolling in the M.S. program in Data Analysis and Visualization, she completed her Bachelor's degree in Computer Information Technology at St. Joseph's University in Brooklyn.
Throughout her time in the program, Yesenny was able to combine her technical and analytical skills with her commitment to social justice. She shared, "For me, furthering my studies with this degree goes beyond numbers as I always find myself working with data for the greater good."
The program's curriculum deepened her understanding of underserved communities' needs and the powerful role data can play in creating positive change. One of the most impactful courses for Yesenny was Professor Michelle McSweeney's "Introduction to Data Visualization" which allowed her to leverage her creativity through dashboards, presentations, and websites, despite having no prior experience with Tableau.
Throughout the program, she learned the significance of data-driven storytelling and gained the technical skills necessary to work effectively with raw data. In several course projects, she applied her learnings using real-world data from sources like NYC Open Data and the Census Bureau. She also gained knowledge of tools like Tableau, QGIS, ArcGIS, Visual Studio Code, and SPSS, enabling her to communicate complex data insights in an easily understandable manner.
After collaborating with a range of organizations such as UNICEF, DonorsChoose, and the Queens Public Library, Yesenny now serves as the Principal Data Analyst at the MOECM. By working with over 300 media outlets across NYC, she identifies areas for boosting Local Law 83’s compliance through new advertising campaigns. After coordinating routine data collection and analysis, she communicates her findings to the office, key stakeholders, and the public through presentations, dashboards, and reports.
She feels proud to spread awareness through data and to work with a team that ensures minority groups receive the latest and most accurate information about New York City in their native language. She reflected: "The program helped me discover a career path that combined all of my skills and passions and inspired me to continue a positive impact for those in underserved communities."
Check out Yesenny’s Digital Portfolio
Kavya joined the program as a part time student in the Fall of 2019. She brought her educational background in political science and her years of experience as a data analyst and program manager for various nonprofits to her classes—during her time at the Graduate Center, she’s had the opportunity to think critically about data visualization and to “learn by doing” in a creative, thoughtful, and supportive environment. Within her first four semesters of study, she developed dashboards, web apps, wireframes, and glitch art. Because of the experience she gathered in the program, Kavya recently landed a job as a Visual Journalist at Axios, where she specializes in data visualization.
“I'm surrounded by talented peers who bring unique perspectives to class, and professors who present data visualization as both an art and a science, grounded in humanity. I also value how much program leadership listens to students and actively improves the program based on feedback.”
“Prior to the program, I had never considered myself a "developer"—and definitely not a designer. But by the end of the second course in the Data Visualization sequence, I had built up such a credible portfolio of work that I was able to land many interviews for data viz positions based on the strength of that portfolio alone. I definitely wouldn't have gotten my current job without the program!”
Check out Kavya’s Digital Portfolio
“I benefited from working full time while I studied in the program part time, because I had the chance to move slowly and see how, in some organizations, a little bit of data analytics expertise can already go a long way. At this point in time, I understand more about how to think to the needs of an analytics problem and how applying the right approach or design is rarely just a technical or abstract problem but is rather a concrete one which involves understanding stakeholders questions, needs, and interests and which often requires patience, pacing, iteration, and negotiation.”
“I think that the program being situated at the GC, where there are so many incredible faculty in the social sciences, also created a great opportunity to learn about different types of data analysis practices used across different fields.”
Projects he’s worked on: Public Innovations Explorer; Public Funding of Innovation; Explore Keyword Trends in New Grants (class project); Orders of magnitude: governing signals during COVID-19 (class project).
After receiving her undergraduate degree in English at Bowdoin College, Eva worked in arts non-profits and as a high school tutor—as a humanist, she appreciates how the depth of the M.S. program’s humanities core is coupled with numerous opportunities to learn and practice traditionally non-humanist skills, like web development and data analysis. To this end, Eva took advantage of the relationship between the M.S. Program and the GC’s M.A. Program in Digital Humanities, taking several DH courses that contributed to her intellectual and professional development. Overall, she enjoys the versatility that the expertise in data visualization she’s developed at the GC offers her—the technical skills and the theoretical frameworks she’s familiarized herself with, allow her to work on a variety of projects focusing on different subject matters, from political analysis to literary criticism to questions around social justice and civil rights. “That’s the closest I can get to being a modern Renaissance woman,” she says! At the Graduate Center, she also expanded both the geographical and the intellectual scope of her professional network, as she was offered opportunities to produce ideas and projects whose lives extended beyond the classroom setting. For example, presenting an idea developed in embryonic form as part of a class project led to presenting at an academic conference and to being invited to be a part of a book proposal. During her time as a student, the program also led directly to Eva landing two rewarding and different internships, thanks to the support and coordination between faculty and the GC Career Center.
“I expected to come out of the program with a better understanding of how to make data visualizations and do data analysis. I never expected to be able to both call myself a web developer AND deepen my connection to my humanities background! I'm coming to realize that my training as a humanist makes me uniquely qualified to work ethically and responsibly with data at a high level—the program has helped me to have both the skills and the ideological framework to do so.”