“Our ability to do great things with data will make a real difference in every aspect of our lives.” – Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director for Code for America
The simplicity of this statement contrasts the profound nature of its implications. Data has already become a critical foundation of our society, shaping everything we do, hear and see in some way. And, it’s influence and impact will grow exponentially in the future as we uncover more ways to investigate and draw insight from the nearly unfathomable amount of it being generated every day.
I’m fascinated with the possibilities we have before us to improve society, to help people, to change the world, through data. That’s why I’m so excited and incredibly honored to be chosen as the first recipient of the Liaison Data-Inspired Future Scholarship. I’ll be studying artificial intelligence and machine learning at Stanford University starting this fall, and my aim is to pay my own way through school. This scholarship helps considerably, and it’s a perfect match for my field of study.
I’ve been intrigued by data and computer science for a long time. In one of my computer science classes, I remember the instructor telling us about how he ran an entire hospital IT system on half a megabyte of storage. Half a meg! That’s almost unbelievable. And, that’s when the reality of just how much our data dependency has grown hit me – now, I can download a dozen megabytes of data in just a few minutes!
But as it’s grown, our need for data has also become increasingly complex, weaving into the fabric of our interactions and how people live their lives. I’m excited for the opportunity to find innovative ways to leverage data and insights to have a meaningful impact on my community.
In fact, I’ve already begun some work in this area. In 2015, I founded a non-profit called Science Helps that uses technology to help people help others. Not only has it raised over $10,000 and 57,000 pounds of rice toward ending world hunger, but it’s also helped members learn how to donate idle CPU processing time to help scientists fight disease. I also created the Cost of Credit Calculator app, combining my love for math and computer science, to help people understand the true cost of buying items on a credit card, with the goal of helping them to make smarter financial decisions.
Now, as I look to the future, I’m intrigued by the opportunities that technologies like Liaison’s provide—a way to make data more accessible, more strategic and more valuable. As our world becomes increasingly data-driven, we need solutions that can help us make the most of its potential.
My goal is to become the next innovative researcher diving into the most cutting-edge intelligence to make an impact, to build on what we know, to expand human knowledge. With the help of Liaison’s Data-Inspired Future scholarship, I am well on my way.