The David H. Blackwell Summer Scholars Program began in the Summer of 2021. It was planned and put together by the department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity committee in the honor of Dr. David H. Blackwell. This 6-week program was created with the purpose of increasing access and equity for graduates in statistics, data science, and mathematics. This March, multiple gifted students were accepted into this prestigious program.
The scholars of the Blackwell Summer Program of 2023 are Ariel Ivy, Samuel Park, Hala Abdelrazek, and Tanaiya Sumter. Each student comes from a unique background. However, they share one thing in common: aspirations to fully utilize statistical methods in their work.
To start off, Ariel Ivy is one of the scholars accepted into the program. She is a senior at U of I who majors in psychology and minors in statistics. She is active in a few clubs on campus and is a student assistant at Grainger Engineering Library. In her free time, she likes to work out, watch anime, and read books.
“This program is an amazing opportunity. I can tell it’s going to be challenging, but I’m excited to learn more about research in statistics while simultaneously doing the hands-on training. I found out about this program by doing a deep search on the statistics department’s webpage. I was hesitant to apply, but after talking to Jen (an undergraduate advisor) I decided to go for it. Ultimately, I hope this program will not only make me a competitive applicant for statistics graduate programs, but also a more competent student and researcher in the field,” Ariel said.
The second scholar is Samuel Park. He is a junior at Truman State University in Missouri, majoring in statistics and minoring in computer science. He is originally from South Korea. In his free time, he likes to work out, cook, and play the piano and clarinet.
“Since this is my first research experience, and everything is new to me, I was surprised when there were only 4 students in the program. But at the same time, I also liked it because I would be able to connect better with other students and the mentor,” said Samuel. Initially, he explained that he wanted to go to U of I, but the tuition was too expensive for him. However, it all worked out once Samuel heard about the Blackwell Summer Program from the head professor of the statistics department and decided to apply. He said, “I thought it could be a great opportunity to gain experience at this great school. The opportunities the school is offering the scholars and my interests in data science led me to apply to this program. My goal is making good connections with other students and my mentor and learning new content that I didn’t know before. I want to learn as much as I can about Statistics until the program finishes.”
The third scholar is Hala Abdelrazek. She is a senior at Illinois State, majoring in secondary math education. She is a first-generation immigrant from Egypt. Her interests include reading, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures.
“My impression of this program so far is great! Although I lack research and programming experience, the mentors have been very helpful. The seminars feel very personal to us and are helping me learn so much more about math and statistics. I heard about the program through my school advisors and applied with no idea that I’d get in. What really attracted me to this program is the focus on underrepresented groups since I’m a Muslim Arab. I hope to gain more experience with research and develop connections with the professors and staff at the department,” Hala said.
The fourth and final scholar of this year’s program is Tanaiya Sumter. She is a junior at Winston Salem State University in North Carolina, majoring in mathematics with a concentration in statistics. She is originally from Columbia, South Carolina. In her free time, she loves to listen to music, binge watch her favorite shows, and spend time with her little sister.
“This has been an interesting program and I have gotten the chance to speak and hear from some brilliant people. The exposure to different fields of statistics and mathematics has certainly opened my eyes to concepts I had not previously considered. This program was suggested to me by my mentor, Dr. Felicia Simpson. I wanted to experience something new and gain some knowledge about the world of statistics. I hope to leave this program with a greater appreciation of biostatistics, and skills that I will be able to carry with me throughout my future,” Tanaiya said.
All in all, the scholars of the Blackwell Summer Scholars Program are all very excited for this opportunity to gain statistical research experience, expand their network, and strive for academic excellence.
Gianna Pham is a staff writer for the Department of Statistics. If you have news to share, please contact the Statistics news group at firstname.lastname@example.org.