Bella Davies (CDS’24) Convocation Speech

Good morning everyone, family, friends, faculty, and guests, thank you for being here today. The successes and achievements we are celebrating could not have been possible without you and your unwavering support. And congratulations to the 2024 graduates, we did it! I am honored and grateful to have been selected to speak here today. For those who don’t know me, my name is Bella Davies, and I am a proud data science student and now CDS graduate.

When I was asked to write about my experiences in CDS, I knew immediately that I needed to mention our amazing professors, as well as TAs, advisors, and mentors. Their involvement in the CDS program is the factor that has shaped our education the most. The expertise, industry experiences, and ceaseless efforts by our instructors to improve and develop the curriculum with the rapidly changing world of technology, has provided us with the most relevant, cutting-edge education in data science. These instructors have also been the kindest and most supportive mentors to myself and my peers. I’m sure many of you could speak to this as well, but I’ve consistently witnessed their kindness, understanding, and their love for data science in every class I’ve had here. I’ve seen time and time again professors willing and eager to help students in all areas whether it’s for academics or career support. We are all extremely thankful for your guidance, inspiration, and everything you have taught us over the years.

"I’ve consistently witnessed their (faculty) kindness, understanding, and their love for data science in every class I’ve had here."

Not only must we recognize our amazing families and faculty, but it's also an important time to reflect on ourselves and on these past four transformative years at this institution. From an isolating freshman year on a silent ghostown campus during covid, to a now lively campus full of events and activities, I’m sure we’ve all had very different paths and challenges along the way. Especially since the data science program is new, and most of us started off with different majors then decided to explore this instead. So it's even more true that each of us has our own unique college experience to reflect on, but I wanted to speak about the thing that has held constant for all of us which is of course the CDS program. I am personally very happy with my decision to switch into data science and I know the experiences we have shared throughout our academic journey of navigating this advanced and transformative field together will stay with me forever.

Bella Davies (CDS'24), Boston UniversityThe first data science course I ever took was DS100 with Professor White. It was the first time I had been exposed to programming specifically for data science and analyzing large datasets, and I truly learned so much in that class. From that point forward I started to get more involved in the CDS community, through student orgnizations, course assistant roles, hackathons, and various projects for clients around Boston through the BU Spark! organization. These experiences have been some of the most rewarding highlights of my college journey, as well as the many classes we’ve all shared together over the years.

For example, in DS310 data mechanics with Professor Seferlis, where we identified the most effective covid policies using data from 10 different major countries. Or going to Professor Onak’s office hours together to discuss our DS320 algorithms homework. Or in DS340 machine learning class Professor Gold this semester, where we saw everyone’s projects using ML and AI in all different areas of computer vision, image and speech recognition, audio, music, and more.

It’s truly inspiring to see these projects from my peers, and shows how this type of work and you all are truly the future of tech. We also learned about and discussed ethical considerations of working with large datasets, like trust, privacy, and bias in DS380 data ethics with Professor Wildman. These valuable lessons we will take with us into our professional lives and careers. Throughout these core data science classes and more of our individual chosen electives, we have built a strong foundation of math, statistics, and programming. On top of that we’ve gained a crucial understanding of modern data science skills of analytics, visualization, and predictive modeling, skills that are increasingly valuable in today’s world. We should all be so proud of the skills and knowledge we’ve gained throughout our hard-earned degrees.

Today is a celebration of successes and achievements, but one thing we should not forget during our reflection is our inevitable failures. Any tests we bombed, assignments missed, projects we probably could’ve done better. These have been pivotal moments in my academic journey as they’ve allowed me to learn from my mistakes, then grow for the better as a result. Though it can be difficult, I encourage you all to carry your failures with you along with your successes. Even though we’re graduating, we’re all still constantly learning and growing, and some self reflection now and then will only help us reach further success in life.

The last thing I have to mention is the invaluable friends and lifelong connections I’ve made through this program. I’m forever thankful to CDS for bringing together some of the smartest and brightest minds I have ever met, and at the same time the most down to earth, inclusive, and genuine people from countries all over the world. I will miss seeing you guys everyday in our classes and working on our projects together, and I hope our paths will cross again in the future.

"Data science is still a relatively new field, that means we’re the generation that holds the power to use these new technologies to make a positive change in the world."

Whatever’s next for you, if it’s a new job or continuing education, research, or whatever industry you plan to bring your new data science skills to, whether it's big tech, finance, public policy, energy, healthcare or any of the boundless applications of data sicence. Remember that data science is still a relatively new field, that means we’re the generation that holds the power to use these new technologies to make a positive change in the world. And as we move on to the next stage of our lives and into the real world, remember to practice self reflection, as well as appreciation and gratitude for those who have helped us. Finally, remember to practice data science for good and data science for all. Thank you and congratulations to the Class of 2024.

Bella is a 2024 CDS graduate with a love and passion for data science. An active member of the CDS community, she has been involved with student organizations and hackathons, mentoring students as a course assistant, and working on data science projects for the BU Spark! organization. After graduating with a B.S. in Data Science and minor in Economics from Boston University, Bella will be working as a full-time software engineer in Boston.