MDS Spotlight: Meet Sara Hall, MDS Okanagan, Class of 2022

For Sara Hall, it was during her undergraduate degree in neuroscience at the University of Calgary where she was first introduced to the power and potential of extracting knowledge from data. 

“There was a guest lecture in one of the classes by a computational neuroscientist. He talked a lot about precision medicine where an individual’s genes, lifestyle, and environment are analyzed to determine which treatment methods are most likely to be effective for them,” said Hall. “This involves having to process a lot of data. I remember thinking how powerful that has the potential to be and I really wanted to learn more about how to derive meaning from large amounts of data.”

This realization led Hall to the MDS-O program, which offered the perfect blend of close-knit learning experiences, affordable living, and breath-taking scenery.

“The small cohort size means you really get to know everyone and build a strong sense of community and collaboration, explained Hall. “I also like the pace of living in a smaller city. It’s a great place to run, hike, bike, and ski.

 “I also think one of the best things about MDS is that it’s designed for people from pretty much any background, so you don’t need an undergraduate degree in computer science as you do for a lot of other programs,” said Hall. 

And once engrossed in the program, it wasn’t long before Hall could clearly see the benefits of the MDS Okanagan program.

“The program is a really great learning experience,” said Hall.  “Building connections with a lot of great people in the program, learning a lot about data science in such a short period of time and having the learning process be so supported by the teaching staff, its been a really valuable experience.”

So, what would Hall, who runs half marathons and is a former provincial-level road cyclist in her spare time, say was the most important lesson learned from the MDS-O program?

“That it’s ok to not to be an expert in every topic, you just have to be comfortable continuing to learn as needed and troubleshoot as you go. The program is intense but overall, it’s a lot of fun.”

Sara’s Top 3 Tips on Succeeding in the MDS-O Program:

  1. There are a lot of deadlines so it’s really helpful to start working on things as soon as you can so that things don’t pile up. 
  2. Take care of yourself. Make time to do things you enjoy on the side. The program is intense, and you’ll do better if you take care of your mental health.
  3. Don’t be shy about discussing problems with your classmates, you’ll learn a lot from them. Plus, it’s more fun to be stuck on problems and work through them together than alone.

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