Alison Tuiyott (Class of 2020)

photo of Alison Tuiyott

  • honors junior Statistics major, with an Analytics co-major
  • minor in Computer Science
  • from West Chester, OH
  • member of Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program
  • President of StatHawks student organization
  • interns at the Center for Analytics and Data Science; on 2018 DataFest winning team
"Being versatile is really helpful in the workplace…I took an environmental biology class as part of the Miami Plan, and although I really struggle with the natural sciences, this course was completely different. It was more discussion-based, and we talked about the environment and what we're doing to our planet, and it really got to me. In some ways it might be seen as depressing, but it's very deep. I decided that I don't hate biology as much!"

Why Miami?

Alison Tuiyott (back row, left) with fellow students from Miami University Gospel Fest

"My biggest motivation in choosing a college was the faculty-student relationship. My high school was really big, and I wanted to make sure I could create a stronger connection with my teachers.

"I did postsecondary in high school, meaning that for two years I commuted from home to take Miami Plan classes at Miami's Hamilton campus even before I was formally admitted! By the time I was an actual Miami student as a freshman, I was ready to keep going; I was taking classes with juniors. That experience felt like a completely different environment — new friends, living away from home, and figuring out the proper balance.

"I participated in the early arrival class for the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, meaning that I arrived in Oxford about a week earlier than most of my freshman peers. During that time I got to meet other underrepresented students the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] fields. All of us bonded that week, working and presenting on a project together. That experience helped me understand that I had friends in STEM who kind of looked like me and came from similar backgrounds.

"For my first year, I lived in the Honors living learning community (LLC), which was located in Tappan Hall. It was a really good decision, since it was a quieter living arrangement than other dorms and allowed me to make friends who were as hardworking as I was. I met some of my best friends in that dorm!"

Best Miami Experiences

Alison Tuiyott and other CADS interns working with partner company EY (Ernst and Young)

"Miami has given me great networking and professional development experiences at an early point in my career. Three weeks after I moved to this campus as a freshman, I started working for the Center for Analytics and Data Science (CADS), physically located in the Farmer School of Business. There are several departments from across Miami that are involved with CADS, including Statistics, Computer Science, and Information Systems & Analytics. I was only a freshman, but all of these big players in my life were coming together, allowing me to work on projects with real companies. Some of the companies that are CADS partners are Cleveland Clinic, Fifth Third Bank, and EY [Ernst & Young]!

"As a part of CADS, I work on different projects with real-world clients over a 10-week period. Our group is given some data and told to figure out answers to specific questions, and after we've explored the data and made sense of it, we present our findings to the client. It's a great amount of hands-on activity that not many students get exposed to early on. In dealing with clients early on, I'm learning how to explain and present technical information in layperson's terms. My favorite part is that every project is different and there is always room to grow and learn!

"Now that I'm a junior, I've been with CADS for over two years, and it's great. Aside from the opportunities I've been able to add to my resume, it helped me get my first internship last summer (2017) at GE, where I worked in the Cincinnati Digital department — very much an analytics and information science kind of world. The various projects I worked on as an intern, along with 40 other interns, helped me become a leader — even as one of the youngest members of the group! It was a lot of fun, and I made a lot of good friends from different schools, all of whom are just as passionate about analytics and statistics and computer science as I am.

"Now, one year later, I've just completed another internship this past summer that I acquired through a CADS connection. This summer I interned at Eli Lilly in the Clinical Labs and Data Science space. The project allowed me to learn more about bridging the gap between the technical world and business world. I made very special connections that helped me attend an IT conference in New Orleans during the end of my internship. Having these opportunities made me appreciate the field I hope to go into after graduation.

"Back when I was a freshman, L. Allison Farmer, the Van Andel Professor of Business Analytics and director of CADS, scooped me up, and she's played a huge part in helping me with my academic and career decisions. Because she's also a statistician herself, she has served as a great female mentor.

"Dr. Farmer started CADS DataFest three years ago, along with associate professor of statistics Thomas Fisher. Dr. Fisher has practically adopted me as his mentee because I've been bothering him with questions from the very beginning. I'm quirky about being organized and having a 5-year plan, and I remember going to him as a freshman with a list of a hundred things I wanted to do, and he told me, 'Alright, we can start here, just slow down.' And finally, John Bailer, chair and professor of statistics, has played a similar role to Dr. Fisher in terms of responding to my incessant questions and giving me great career advice. The irony of it all is that so far I've never taken a class from either one of them, but they can't get rid of me!

"I've also started the Combined Bachelors-Masters Program in statistics, which allows me to graduate in May 2020 with both degrees at the same time. Hopefully, within 5 years I'll be working as a data scientist or analyst at a company, but ultimately I'd like to start my own business!"

Miami and the Liberal Arts

Alison Tuiyott poses for Honors Student of the Month award.

"I've always been a math geek. Ever since elementary school I was saying, 'This is so slow, I need to go faster and understand more!' I went to my high school counselor and told him that I wanted to do math for the rest of my life, and he asked,'"Well, do you want to make money?' I said yes, and he suggested that I look at not only math but also statistics — so I did some research and found that statistics is sort of like math, but it's more applied and offers more career opportunities.

My first stats class was during my senior year in high school, when I was commuting to Miami's Hamilton campus. I loved it so much that I knew it was the major for me. Statistics majors are often seen as techy and nerdy, perhaps because I feel we're basically learning why things happen. A lot of people can create really good models of what is happening, but understanding why is particularly helpful in solving problems.

"But to better understand and explain the why, it's important to take a variety of courses — not just math or stats, but also things like theater and environmental biology and more. These courses allow you to meet people who are different from you, force you to try and do new things, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. That big picture mentality is priceless — otherwise we'd all be staying in our little bubbles.

"Being versatile is really helpful in the workplace. I started taking computer science classes early on, gaining knowledge in different computing languages to be more marketable. I also took an environmental biology class as part of the Miami Plan, and although I really struggle with the natural sciences, this course was completely different. It was more discussion-based, and we talked about the environment and what we're doing to our planet, and it really got to me. In some ways it might be seen as depressing, but it's very deep. I decided that I don't hate biology as much!"

Answering Business Questions

Alison describes her participation in the Center for Analytics and Data Science's DataFest.

Answering Business Questions Video Transcript

Advice to Students

"Don't be afraid of what people say. One of the bigger downfalls of stats that I've encountered is that when I mention the word 'statistics' to some people, they're like, 'Why would you do that?' As long as you have the ability to keep focused and stay motivated, you can do most everything.

"I also believe the higher you set the bar, the bigger the satisfaction it is to get over that. So I am one to always set the bar super high, and by the time I accomplish that goal, it feels so much better than setting the bar really low. So continue to challenge yourself, continue to surround yourself with people that are doing better, more successful, and it'll all work out.

"Also, don't forget the need to put yourself out there. I feel like one of the things that has really benefited me at Miami so far is that I'm not afraid of pushing my boundaries. I often was told that you can't get an internship as a freshman — it's just not possible. But if you explore as much as you can, the opportunities are out there. It's just whether you're willing to dedicate yourself to reaching out and sticking your hands into all sorts of different things! It's all about finding what works for you."

[April 2018]