Alumni Student Name: Kim Pham

Human Development Degree/Program: Master of Science in Learning Analytics

Undergraduate University: Brown University

Hometown: Boston, MA

Current City: New York, NY

Current Employment (Title/Company): Data Scientist @ Macmillan Learning


What inspired you to pursue a graduate degree in Learning Analytics at TC?

I wanted to work with data that drove actionable insights and led to social change. At TC, I had the opportunity to build a professional data science toolkit and specialize in the growing field of Learning Analytics. Learning Analytics led me to pursue my current role where I model data scripted in R to help executive management deploy stronger learning materials.


What experience did you enjoy the most while in the Program and at Teachers College?

I loved founding the Data Science and Education Student Association. I was fortunate to get to know my fellow TC students on a more personal level by leading the organization. I learned about different perspectives and approaches to using data and technology in the education space. We managed to host monthly meetups, weekly coding hours, and networking mixers on top of our other grad school commitments - a feat well worth the effort and one of the best experiences I had at TC.


What class did you enjoy most in the Learning Analytics program?

Learning Analytics courses on data mining and feature engineering with Dr. Charles Lang. It was fun learning how to code, wrangling messy data, and understanding the use cases for different types of machine learning models. 


What's the most exciting project you're working on right now?

Macmillan Learning’s mission is to improve lives through learning. My team works to measure the impact of educational technology in the classroom. Do students perform better using ed-tech tools in the classroom? How is student learning impacted by instructor usage of ed-tech tools? Isolating key research questions and data solutions is challenging but keeps me curious and committed time after time. 


How did your degree in Learning Analytics program help prepare you for your current career?

My degree gave me a competitive academic background and technical skillset to enter the data science industry. Most importantly my diploma gave me a community. I am grateful for my TC mentors and colleagues who inspire me and have helped connect my interests to the professional world. The connections I made at TC have become deep friendships I continue to value and cherish.


What advice would you give to other graduate students, or potential graduate students of this program?

Think about all the skills and resources you can only get from NYC, Columbia, and TC. Take advantage! That might mean transferring subway lines to attend absurd meetups downtown, missing class to audit a seminar at a different school (education law anyone?), or taking a 2 pm nap to rest a heavy mind. I know there will be challenges to overcome (maybe financially or personally) as well as uncertainties as to where and how this degree will exactly fit into the rest of your life. My best friend said it well, you are investing in yourself, so go on and do it. Trust your ability to shape your experiences when given new environments, surprising opportunities, and daunting unknowns. Look back when you’re ready and see how much you’ve grown. Maybe you’ll have a new degree in hand.