Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About us Campus Fryslân
Header image Campus Fryslân blog

Leading Change with Data Science & Society - A Bold New Path: Thomas

Date:07 June 2024
Author:Erika Compatangelo
Thomas, first year student of the BSc Data Science & Society programme
Thomas, first year student of the BSc Data Science & Society programme

In our BSc Data Science & Society programme, students are pioneers who push boundaries and shape the future! What makes them choose this path? Since February, we have been exploring this question in our series "Leading Change with Data Science - A Bold New Path." Each month, students have shared their motivations for joining and their visions for real-world applications of the lessons learned. Today, in the final post of this series, we hear it from Thomas!

What initially sparked your interest in Data Science & Society?

I have been interested in Data Science for quite some time. This programme caught my attention because of its focus on ethics and societal impact. I was also drawn to the promise of acquiring both technical skills, such as programming in Python and R, and social skills like presenting. Additionally, the fact that it is a new and innovative study programme intrigued me.

Were there any specific experiences or events that influenced your decision to pursue this field over more conventional ones (law, medicine, international business...)?

My interest in IT steered me towards Data Science. I enjoy programming, but computer science seemed a bit too technical for my taste. In high school, I did well in subjects like history, economics, and geography, and I had a good grasp of math and biology. While I didn't fit the typical technical profile, I've always been more inclined towards understanding the societal impacts of these fields.

How did you weigh the pros and cons of choosing Data Science & Society against more traditional fields?

The programme being new had its ups and downs for me. On the bright side, it meant plenty of room for growth and adaptation, especially in areas like cutting-edge AI developments. However, being new also meant potential for hiccups here and there.

I had to weigh up whether I wanted to dive into something tech-heavy like AI or focus more on how it all impacts society. What swayed me was the programme's freshness and the fact that the lecturers were really plugged into what's happening now.

Also, the campus being nearby was a plus. It's handy for me since I used to live in Groningen and now commute to Leeuwarden!

❝ What swayed me was the programme's freshness and the fact that the lecturers were really plugged into what's happening now.❞

Did your family or friends have reservations or expectations about your choice over more traditional paths?

My family mostly backed my decision; my dad, being in IT himself, leaned towards a more traditional route like computer science or informatics. On the other hand, my mom was all for this programme. She's into the societal side of Data Science and Society, just like me.

Some other people questioned the newness of the programme, but I saw it as an opportunity rather than a drawback. Sure, it's new, but that means potential for innovation and staying current!

How do you think your chosen field will help you make a positive impact on society or bring about meaningful change?

A few weeks back, I started exploring the job prospects linked to the skills from this programme. Take data science, for instance. Collecting vast amounts of data and then presenting it in a visually compelling way to businesses or governments sounds fascinating. On the other hand, I'm also keen on using data for research purposes, finding ways to optimize processes.

There's also the option of working with law enforcement or intelligence agencies, as they're increasingly in need of data processing experts. It's a field that spans so many areas. Personally, I'm drawn to roles that involve interacting with others, not just sitting behind a desk all day. I enjoy meetings and presenting findings in a way that's accessible to those not fluent in data and numbers.

Do you feel that current events, like the pandemic, influenced your perspective or determination to pursue this particular path?

What really caught my attention was artificial intelligence. The ethical questions raised by recent advancements are incredibly intriguing. Take the fourth industrial revolution, for example. The wealthiest nations are reaping the benefits, while developing nations face challenges like climate change stemming from earlier industrial revolutions. Staying informed and understanding these dynamics really grabs my interest.

I probably didn't think about this much before, but it was definitely in the back of my mind when I decided to pursue this bachelor's degree.

About the author

Erika Compatangelo
Erika Compatangelo

Ciao! My name is Erika and I am the Content & Data Management Specialist of Campus Fryslân. I was born and raised in Italy and have recently graduated from the MSc in Climate Adaptation Governance. I have been in charge of the blog and all its content since October 2023. My aim is to make this virtual space serve as a logbook for the Campus Fryslân community and as a welcoming introduction for all newcomers. Here, you will find stories from the people of Campus Fryslân to get a taste of what studying here is like and the exciting opportunities it comes with!