Huijie (Jasmine) Shi knew “nothing about data science” on her first day of a course on data and leadership taught by Professor of Education Leadership Alex Bowers

But Shi (MA ’22, Social-Organizational Psychology ) turned out to be a quick study. Taking a cue from Bowers, a researcher at the forefront of studies on data-driven school leadership, Shi turned her attention to an issue that touches thousands of schools each year — principal attrition.

“Principal turnover is detrimental to teaching quality, it influences decisions by teachers about remaining in a school,” says Shi. “School morale goes down, it affects student achievement and replacing a principal is also very expensive.”

Bowers so impressed by the project that he (unbeknownst to Shi) submitted the nomination that resulted in the Data Science Institute at Columbia University naming “Identifying Patterns of Two Types of Principal Turnover in the USA and Singapore Using Decision Trees ” as a finalist in the annual Best Data Science Student Course Project Competition . Shi’s was the only solo project among the nine finalists. 

While Shi’s interest in data science emerged later, her fortitude for understanding how people think — and in particular, how leaders can best connect and navigate the world around them — showed up much earlier. 

Having earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Queen's University, the Chinese-born Shi found that her international scholarship helped her “learn about different cultures, different people and to broaden [her] horizons.” This, plus Shi’s conversations with her corporate father about leadership, led Shi to New York and the TC program in Social-Organizational Psychology, which exposed her to a campus-wide wealth of ideas, principles and research.

Now, the student who came to New York “knowing nothing about data science” spent her final months at TC delving into educational equity as a Graduate Research Assistant with the Education Leadership Data Analytics (ELDA) research group. 

Next on her ever-broadening horizon is work on a doctorate in leadership studies from the Human Resources and Labor Relations program at Bowers’ alma mater, Michigan State University. 

For Shi, TC has more than prepared her for the inflection points ahead:

“By immersing me in courses taught by TC professors with a wide range of practice and research experience, the [Social-Organizational Psychology] program has equipped me to apply operational theory and cutting-edge research to my own projects,” explains Shi, “and to use practice to inform my research.”