Kate Cunningham

Kate Cunningham

After earning her Masters of Science in Analytics degree, Kate went on to work as a Senior Data Scientist for Accenture. Learn more about Kate here.

Tell us about your background.
I graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2009. I went on to receive my undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where I majored in mathematics. In completing my mathematics degree, one of my most memorable courses was Linear Algebra and Real Analysis taught by Professor Paul Bamberg. The class fueled my passion for hard work and complex problem-solving.  The amount of effort and understanding to solve one homework problem was often enormous. To reach a high level of understanding after days of effort is what excited me about mathematics. 

What are your professional goals? 
An aspect of the Graduate Analytics & Data Science program is the ability to design your own course in an area of interest. I designed my own course focused on injury prevention in sports analytics. I worked to bring attention to how injury prevention can become proactive versus reactive with the help of data analytics. I believe data can tell an important story, and the field of sports training and injury prevention is ripe to hear this story. 

Tell us about an analytics project you have worked on in or out of the program that you have enjoyed learning from? 
For our summer project, I worked with a team to study data on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Upon manipulating and merging multiple data sources, we quickly learned what it was like to work with a very large data set (90 million rows).  This data set taught us the importance of capturing granularity in the data, as the different levels of granularity in our data presented a different lens under which the bigger question could be seen. We created an interactive dashboard in Tableau to illustrate health insurance rates across the United States. One of the biggest takeaways from this project was captured from a quote in the Booz Allen Field Guide to Data Science. We used this quote in our final presentation: “Data scientists should be truth-seekers, not fact-seekers.”-Alex Cosmas, Booz Allen Chief Scientist. I have learned that data may present certain facts, but it is important to understand that there is a greater truth and investigate whether the data is telling that truth.

What have you found valuable about the M.S. program thus far?
I enjoyed the many fascinating people who were part of the program. Everyone brought a different perspective and background to the learning experience, and it was exciting to be in class every day with so many brilliant classmates who shared my passion for problem-solving. The opportunity to work in teams and collaborate with others was invaluable and motivating. As I look toward the workforce, I believe these skills are important as analytics is a “team sport.”

Why did you choose to pursue a career in analytics?
I decided to pursue a career in analytics for many of the same reasons I chose to study mathematics. Math was not a natural skill for me, but I reveled in the challenge and hard work. I thrive in situations where I am pushing myself and out of my comfort zone, and I knew pursuing analytics would challenge me in a similar fashion. In this program, I discovered something new to learn at the end of each day, and I am not satisfied until I understand it. 

Have you attended any conferences?
I attended the Strata Data Conference in New York City. One of my favorite events at the conference was the Women in Big Data Luncheon. The keynote presentation on text analytics was extremely well done. The speaker, Rebecca Bilbro, was successful at taking a complex topic and making it approachable and coherent. I was inspired to learn about the mission of the Women in Big Data Forum. I plan to work with our program to create a University of New Hampshire satellite to support women in the field of data analytics.

Do you have any extracurricular activities you would like to tell us about? 
I have been an athlete my entire life. I was an elite ice hockey and lacrosse player in high school. My favorite sport is ice hockey; it is on the ice where you will see me with the biggest smile on my face. I still play in a men’s league. Ice hockey is a large part of my identity. I am not the biggest player or the goal scorer, but I have some of the most grit on the ice.

Alumni Spotlights
Student Spotlights