This story originally appeared on The Philadelphia Tribune.
A Philadelphia native is the first African-American woman to earn an advanced degree in data science from New York University.
Deja Bond earned a master’s degree from NYU Center for Data Science in May.
“Deja broke all of the stereotypes of what Black girls can do in an industry behind data and computer science,” said her father, Ira Bond Sr. “There are so many different career paths that young girls can go down, whether it’s in tech or other fields. The only way for kids to see those opportunities is to show them.”
Deja Bond is currently interviewing for jobs with companies in New York City.
“I want to make sure that the company I work for has a culture full of diversity and inclusion, women, and a team who I could consider family,” Bond said. “In technology, you’re always working on the next big thing, so I want to work with people who are just as passionate and driven as I am.”
Bond said she loves data science — a mixture of statistics, data mining and machine learning — because it allows her to be a detective.
“I can apply my machine learning models to discover trends, ask questions, and create unique solutions,” she said. “The data has all the answers; you just have to uncover its beauty.”
Bond, 23, graduated from Girls High International Baccalaureate program in 2014. She had no experience with computer science or coding before she went to Spelman College.
“I had to learn everything from the beginning,” she said. “It was difficult, but my experiences at Spelman shaped my journey to NYU.”
She became interested in “big data,” as some call data science, when she did an undergraduate internship at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Bond first applied to NYU’s computer data science department in 2018 and got put on the wait list. So she moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to work for Appirio, an information technology consulting company.
“I gained a lot of experience in the development of coding for front and backend engineering,” Bond said. “I also worked with business analysts to do requirement documentation and developed relationships with clients like L’Oreal, Chipotle, PNC, and The Walt Disney Company.”
After she was accepted to NYU’s computer data science program, Bond moved to New York City and continued to work remotely for Appirio while she was also a full-time student. She left Appirio in her second year of the data science program to concentrate on her studies.
“I was working 40 hours a week and then hopped on the train after work to go to school and take evening classes,” Bond said. “I wouldn’t get home ‘til 1 or 2 a.m. in the morning; it was exhausting.”
Bond said what helped her get through the program was the help and support from her family and friends.
Bond’s grandmother, Evelyn Bond, who was an educator in the School District of Philadelphia for 32 years, helped the younger Bond with her essays.
“I was constantly working with my friends on group work and assignments,” Bond said. “My family helped me as well. Throughout everything, I always had that support system with me.”