Big Dreams in a Bright Field
Program: M.S. In Data Science
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
Career Goal: Use data science to aid clinical trials
Sara Bigelow was a self-described Army brat growing up, bouncing from place to place as her family moved around. But thanks to the graduate programs in data science at the School of Informatics and Computing, she might finally get an opportunity to settle down.
Bigelow studied biology and chemistry first at Butler University, then IUPUI, and she graduated in 2013 from Cameron University in Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Biology and Chemistry. When researching graduate programs, she noticed IU’s data science certificate program fit her skills perfectly.
“I came across it on accident when looking at graduate programs,” Bigelow says. “After reading the description, I fell in love with the idea of it, and I did some more research on the field. I realized I could really utilize my background and skills with computers.”
Bigelow hopes to enter the data science and analytics field, preferably in health care or pharmaceuticals. In fact, she’s already lined up an internship with Eli Lilly in the spring.
“I’ve always liked working with numbers and statistics and turning a hunk of data into something useful and meaningful, and when I realized that was actually a career field, it seemed like a natural fit,” Bigelow says.
Although the computer programming aspect of the program has been challenging, Bigelow has been happy with the help she has received from teacher’s assistants and fellow students, who have more of a computer science background. She also does her own research in programming to help her catch up to her classmates.
She’s enjoyed the certificate program so far, and plans to the transition to the master’s program.
“I like the way it’s organized. It’s done pretty well for something so new. I’m always learning something new, and it’s never boring,” says Bigelow.
Then again, life is never boring for her. As a single mother of a young son, Bigelow has to use good time-management skills to balance her schoolwork with her family life, but she knows it will ultimately be worth it.
“I know that by obtaining a master’s degree, I’ll not only be able to start a career in a field that I’m very interested in, but also it will be a career that will be more lucrative financially,” Bigelow says. “I’ll be able to support my son without requiring assistance.”
Her dream is to use the master’s to work on clinical trials.
“I can use data analysis to help clinical trial outcomes or communication between patients and physicians,” Bigelow says. “Also, I can help find trial participants. Sometimes that’s a difficult thing to do.”
She hopes to someday land a full-time job with Eli Lily or another large pharmaceutical company that will allow her to build a rewarding and satisfying career while also giving her son the stability she missed growing up. It also could help her explore the world somewhere down the road.
“I think it would be awesome to develop roots, especially if I could get in somewhere like Lily or somewhere else local,” Bigelow says. “But there’s also the potential to travel globally with this field. “