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Meet Kaylynn Arrington, a student in UIC’s new data science major

Kaylynn Arrington

Junior Kaylynn Arrington recently changed her major to data science, part of a new degree program at UIC. Here is our interview with her about why she’s choosing this new career path.

Q: What prompted you to switch majors?

A: I knew I wanted to go into computer science. I like technology and math and learned it was something I could do. After my freshman year I wanted to do something more math-focused and data-focused. It became really clear when I compared my math classes to my computer science classes that I wanted more of a balance. Originally, I was going to switch to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to become a mathematics and computer science major, but I really wanted to stay in the College of Engineering. Someone mentioned they were creating the data science degree within the computer science department, which was perfect.

Q: Have you chosen a concentration?

A: Yes, computer science. I know I want to be in this field because I enjoy using an analytical approach to solving things. To do that using math makes even more sense. I didn’t know how to have a job like that, but through computer science and specifically data science, a much larger piece of the work will be math-related. Data has always been here and will always be here; we will always have to understand things. That’s why I like it as well.

Q: Do you know what career path you want to pursue?

A: I’m not 100 percent sure on specific fields within data science, but I’m very interested in cybersecurity. I have an internship this summer with Origami Risk Management as a risk systems analyst where I’m hoping to learn more. I’m also working on a website that will go live soon. It’s through a scholarship with the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM program, which provides resources for undocumented undergraduate students.

This interview was edited for clarity.

UIC’s data science degree program officially launches this fall, but students can begin to take courses in the new major, which is housed in the computer science department. In addition to core courses in areas including foundational mathematics, statistics, computer science, and ethics, nine areas of concentration allow students to focus on a variety of industries that are increasingly dependent on data analysis. Learn more here.