Recent data science graduate Kelly Uhl—one of the first women to go through NKU's young data science program—reflects on the path that brought her to graduation and what lies ahead.

Kelly Uhl

by Hannah Siefert
Contributor, NKU Magazine

It’s an exciting time in an emerging field.

“Half of the world doesn’t even know what data science is yet,” says Kelly Uhl ('17), a recent data science graduate. 

Data scientists like Kelly will help people make sense of large amounts of complex data and bring together parts of computer science, statistics, business information systems and communication. Kelly will begin her career in the field with Western and Southern Financial Group as an operations analyst in what is now a male-dominated world.

“This has been a practice round for what the environment will be like in my full-time job,” Uhl says of her experience at NKU.

She has been one of the few women to major in data science on campus since the program began in the College of Informatics in 2013. When she started in the program, she battled stereotypes and doubt. She felt as if her classmates did not take her seriously.

“I have to really show who I am because in this field I think I am going to get a lot of that as well,” Uhl says.

So, she built amazing relationships with her professors.

“Kelly made the most of her data science program as a student,” says Dr. Maureen Doyle, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “She worked multiple internships, including with MasterCard, and attended the national Grace Hopper Conference. I see her as a strong advocate for all—and especially for women—in this challenging new field.”

And Uhl sought out female role models.

“Kelly is a rock star,” said Krista Rayford, Communications and Events Manager for the College of Informatics. “She is a strong, independent, young woman who will surely be successful in her field.” 

Uhl was initially a business informatics major—one of the top students in the program. She even tutored fellow classmates. When she switched to data science, it was a completely different world.

Once in the program she knew was best for her, she thrived. She began to build relationships with her classmates as well.

“I sought out who I thought was the smartest person in my class, and I told him that we were going to be friends,” Uhl says.

It has been an experience she would not trade. She found her future husband through the COI Ambassador program and met lifelong friends who will be standing next to her on her wedding day. She worked in internships and gained experiences that have helped her get interviews for jobs after graduation. And she has gained the confidence she needs to take on a male-dominated workforce.

Uhl graduated Dec. 16 and will soon begin to show the world what data science is all about.