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Reflecting Back on My Time at the University

Excerpts from the 100th Ph.D. Recipient Ceremony (August 2016)Student and Program Director at Award Ceremony

Five years ago, I interviewed at the University of Rochester for the Statistics doctoral program in the Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology.

Throughout the day of my interview, there were countless occasions where the members of the department went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable and that I was gaining a thorough understanding of both the university and the city of Rochester. For example, during one of my interviews, a professor graciously compared and contrasted the differences between Rochester and where I completed my undergraduate education. As transitions can be difficult, I especially appreciated her candid take on both cities. This professor, Tanzy Love, would later become my thesis advisor and continue to serve as an invaluable source of advice and encouragement.

After my interviews ended, the graduate program director, Mike McDermott, took me on a driving tour of the medical center campus, river campus, and a few of the housing options before dropping me off at the airport. I joke with him now that by the end of the day, I felt comfortable enough to take a nap in his car on the way to the airport! After that weekend, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to work on my PhD at the University of Rochester.

The faculty, staff, and students work in a collaborative and supportive environment that truly helps facilitate the growth and professional development of its graduate students. For instance, the courses I took in theoretical and applied statistics led me to my research interests in variable selection methods for model-based clustering. The student professional travel stipend provided by our department allowed me to share and present the research I am passionate about at national and international conferences in Washington, Texas, and Italy. I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to discuss my thesis research with prominent statisticians across the world.

I cannot emphasize enough how well supported the students are within our department. As a result of this support, in my five years at the University of Rochester, I have seen my peers accept positions with top pharmaceutical companies like Novartis and Abbvie, federal agencies like the FDA and National Institutes of Health, and faculty positions at various prestigious universities. I am proud to graduate from such a strong department where our training prepares us for positions in so many different fields. As I move forward in my career and life, I will always treasure my time at the University of Rochester, and I will think back on it with the deepest gratitude.