Success Stories
MS Business Analytics student
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December 17, 2019 |
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Alum Uses Data to Impact Housing Crisis

Kearey Smith wants to help find a solution to the housing crisis. Data science is helping him get there.

By Jenny McKeel
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When he isn’t spending time with his family, Kearey Smith dedicates himself to his other passions: photography and his Rottweilers. It keeps him grounded when he’s away from his demanding job at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission where he was recently promoted to the Assistant Director of Data and Visualization.

What drives Kearey at work is the Bay Area housing crisis. It’s affected his own family who moved out to Antioch, California, where real estate is more affordable. Like many others, Kearey spends three hours each day on his San Francisco commute. Early on in his long career at the MTC, Kearey switched his professional focus from urban policy to data.

Connecting Policy to Data

“I saw data as a foundational piece of what a public agency needs to understand better to make public policy. We need to understand how people move from place to place and how our organization would support the transit system and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kearey.

Back in the early 2000s, Kearey began to lay the foundation for what he hoped would become a data strategy at his organization. His small team was poorly resourced. But, on his recommendation, HR began hiring staff with a data background, so that data expertise is distributed across the agency. Kearey also moved servers and infrastructure within his department to the cloud to reduce reliance on their IT department.

“Connecting policy to data and being data-driven was something I wanted our organization to pursue. To get there I knew we needed to do things way in advance. You have to play the long game in an organization like this.”

MS Business Analytics

Years later he picked up some data science certificates and, in 2017, he became interested in a master’s degree.

“The MSBA program was a natural fit for me. I had a lot to offer but also a lot to learn. What distinguished GGU from other programs is that the courses offer technical training and also the big picture through management, strategy, and performance theory,” said Kearey.

The Performance Management course lit a fire within Kearey.

“Everything we talked about in class connected to what I was doing at work. Drawing from my coursework, I prepared a presentation on what data strategy is and how we could implement it in our organization and delivered it to management,” said Kearey.

The Importance of Data Strategy

By the end of his program in 2019, Kearey’s department at the MTC agreed on the need for data strategy—an effort he had been working toward for years. He launched BASIS, Bay Area Spatial Information System, an initiative that will create a secure platform for collection, standardization, discovery, and dissemination of data to be used in regional planning efforts. The system will track information related to development conditions, land use, and environmental impacts associated with regional growth. It’s a great example of how the program helped him push forward innovative ideas that can make a difference in how policy and planning is done.

“The program was perfect for providing opportunities and giving me a greater foundation. Having a structured curriculum helped me leverage what I was doing at the agency and gave me the strategic tools to operate from. I learned the words to use to move people in a certain direction and can speak to problems through case studies we did in the coursework. It created a lot of opportunities.”

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Congrats to recent graduate Dorothea Tolliver, MS Human Resources Management 2020! 🎓 🎉

Dorothea came to GGU to pursue her passion: advocating for individuals like herself who are deaf.

“I wanted to earn a Master’s in Human Resources because I saw a lot of barriers preventing deaf and hard of hearing persons from working,” explained Dorothea. “As an individual who is deaf, I know the importance of an accessible workplace especially when it comes to communication. A lot of times deaf people will earn a degree and then learn that employers won’t hire them because they can’t answer the phone. I wanted to try and solve that problem.”

When Dorothea reached out to GGU’s Office of Disability Resources and Accommodations, she was impressed with the support that she received compared to the support available to persons with disabilities at other private schools.

“The provision of interpreters for deaf students at a small private university like Golden Gate University requires planning, budgeting and education,” ​reflected Peter DeHaas, Director of Disability Resources & Academic Accommodations. DeHaas was able to implement a sustainable plan to make sure that interpreters were provided to Dorothea. “Everyone at GGU rose to the occasion to make her integration into our community a success.”

Dorothea's dream is to one day found a large corporation for people with disabilities where their skills and talents are showcased alongside non-disabled coworkers. She wants to continue to advocate for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing through supporting them and reducing the barriers that exist in the workplace and to serve as a bridge between the hearing and deaf world.

Read the story: ow.ly/eEfb50C4sg8
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Congrats to recent graduate Dorothea Tolliver, MS Human Resources Management 2020! 🎓   🎉

Dorothea came to GGU to pursue her passion: advocating for individuals like herself who are deaf.

“I wanted to earn a Master’s in Human Resources because I saw a lot of barriers preventing deaf and hard of hearing persons from working,” explained Dorothea. “As an individual who is deaf, I know the importance of an accessible workplace especially when it comes to communication. A lot of times deaf people will earn a degree and then learn that employers won’t hire them because they can’t answer the phone. I wanted to try and solve that problem.”

When Dorothea reached out to GGU’s Office of Disability Resources and Accommodations, she was impressed with the support that she received compared to the support available to persons with disabilities at other private schools.

“The provision of interpreters for deaf students at a small private university like Golden Gate University requires planning, budgeting and education,” ​reflected Peter DeHaas, Director of Disability Resources & Academic Accommodations. DeHaas was able to implement a sustainable plan to make sure that interpreters were provided to Dorothea. “Everyone at GGU rose to the occasion to make her integration into our community a success.”

Dorotheas dream is to one day found a large corporation for people with disabilities where their skills and talents are showcased alongside non-disabled coworkers. She wants to continue to advocate for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing through supporting them and reducing the barriers that exist in the workplace and to serve as a bridge between the hearing and deaf world.

Read the story:  http://ow.ly/eEfb50C4sg8

This summer, the Bay Area program of Genesys Works, a national nonprofit that provides pathways to college and career success for underserved students, teamed up with Salesforce and GGU to offer a unique training program. GGU provided students with training in business and data analytics, while Genesys Works provided training in soft skills needed to navigate a corporate office environment—all offered online and a large portion sponsored by Salesforce. Students who successfully completed the course gained college credits and a certificate that they can embed in their LinkedIn profiles.

GGU is proud to partner with Genesys Works to #employchange in America, by opening our doors to diverse, talented students. Join us at genesysworks.org/employ-change.
... See MoreSee Less

This summer, the Bay Area program of  Genesys Works, a national nonprofit that provides pathways to college and career success for underserved students, teamed up with Salesforce and GGU to offer a unique training program. GGU provided students with training in business and data analytics, while Genesys Works provided training in soft skills needed to navigate a corporate office environment—all offered online and a large portion sponsored by Salesforce. Students who successfully completed the course gained college credits and a certificate that they can embed in their LinkedIn profiles.

GGU is proud to partner with Genesys Works to #EmployChange in America, by opening our doors to diverse, talented students. Join us at genesysworks.org/employ-change.

GGU's Race and Justice Task Force is thrilled to welcome Adam Foss, the founder and executive director of Prosecutor Impact, for an engaging online talk and Q&A. PI develops innovative curriculum & training for prosecutors across the country to reduce the use of incarceration. It trains criminal prosecutors to employ data-informed, sustainable & safety-focused interventions to foster more equitable outcomes for the communities they serve.

Adam Foss is a former Assistant D.A. in the Juvenile Division of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, and a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform and the importance of the role of the prosecutor in ending mass incarceration. Adam believes that the profession of prosecution is ripe for a reinvention that requires better incentives and more measurable metrics for success beyond, simply, “cases won.” This led him to create Prosecutor Impact, a non-profit that develops training and curriculum for prosecutors to reframe their role in the criminal justice system. Most recently, Mr. Foss appeared in the critically-acclaimed CNN feature-length documentary “American Jail.”

Welcoming Remarks: GGU Law Dean Eric Christiansen
Speaker Introduction: Law Professor Jyoti Nanda
Following Q&A led by:

Amye Osakue, President, BLSA, Co-Chair of RJTF Subcommittee
Alexis Pickins, BLSA Member, Co-Chair of RJTF Subcommittee

THURSDAY, October 29, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free tickets here: ow.ly/kckp50C1jSZ
... See MoreSee Less

GGUs Race and Justice Task Force is thrilled to welcome Adam Foss, the founder and executive director of Prosecutor Impact, for an engaging online talk and Q&A. PI develops innovative curriculum & training for prosecutors across the country to reduce the use of incarceration. It trains criminal prosecutors to employ data-informed, sustainable & safety-focused interventions to foster more equitable outcomes for the communities they serve.

Adam Foss is a former Assistant D.A. in the Juvenile Division of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston, and a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform and the importance of the role of the prosecutor in ending mass incarceration. Adam believes that the profession of prosecution is ripe for a reinvention that requires better incentives and more measurable metrics for success beyond, simply, “cases won.” This led him to create Prosecutor Impact, a non-profit that develops training and curriculum for prosecutors to reframe their role in the criminal justice system. Most recently, Mr. Foss appeared in the critically-acclaimed CNN feature-length documentary “American Jail.”

Welcoming Remarks: GGU Law Dean Eric Christiansen
Speaker Introduction: Law Professor Jyoti Nanda
Following Q&A led by:

Amye Osakue, President, BLSA, Co-Chair of RJTF Subcommittee
Alexis Pickins, BLSA Member, Co-Chair of RJTF Subcommittee

THURSDAY, October 29, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free tickets here: http://ow.ly/kckp50C1jSZ

View of GGU from the back. Remember walking through the back door off Jessie Street? The world looks pretty different depending on our vantage point.

"Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light." - Dan Brown

Happy Friday, everyone.

Photo: Ana Carolina Almeida
... See MoreSee Less

View of GGU from the back.  Remember walking through the back door off Jessie Street? The world looks pretty different depending on our vantage point.

Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light. - Dan Brown

Happy Friday, everyone.

Photo: Ana Carolina Almeida

Meet Alika Publico, BA ’19

What are you studying?

Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development in the School of Undergraduate Studies.

What is your profession?

I work full-time as a fire prevention officer for the city of Monterey with the U.S. Army.

Why did you choose GGU?

As military service members, we face trials and tribulations. For 19 years I tried to complete my bachelor’s degree at other schools, but every time I hit a wall that would halt my progress. I chose GGU because here I don’t feel like a number. My enrollment counselor walked me through everything until I completed my application, and my tutors and professors are always available through emails and phone calls. My advisor is always in touch with me and has helped streamline the process so I get to that next step.

How are you balancing work and school during COVID-19?

The pandemic hit during my second semester, but thankfully GGU immediately transitioned to Zoom and my academic progress continued uninterrupted. I like Zoom classes because all the information is provided in an accessible way. As long as you communicate with your instructors when issues come up, they are always accommodating and flexible. During my first week, I was affected by the Dolan fire, which we could see from my office. My instructor understood and helped me get through the course while juggling that stressful situation.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

I believe it’s up to the student to put in the time and effort to learn. Take advantage of the instruction videos and all of the readings assigned. Make sure you plan out when you will write your posts for online discussion forums. And if you have any questions or issues, post them to the discussion thread or ask your instructors. They will find a way to help you succeed.

What’s next for you?

I’m graduating this fall and plan to apply for a master’s program in the spring.
... See MoreSee Less

Meet Alika Publico, BA  ’19 

What are you studying? 

Organizational Leadership and Human Skills Development in the School of Undergraduate Studies.
 
What is your profession?
 
I work full-time as a fire prevention officer for the city of Monterey with the U.S. Army. 
 
Why did you choose GGU?
 
As military service members, we face trials and tribulations. For 19 years I tried to complete my bachelor’s degree at other schools, but every time I hit a wall that would halt my progress. I chose GGU because here I don’t feel like a number. My enrollment counselor walked me through everything until I completed my application, and my tutors and professors are always available through emails and phone calls. My advisor is always in touch with me and has helped streamline the process so I get to that next step.
 
How are you balancing work and school during COVID-19?
 
The pandemic hit during my second semester, but thankfully GGU immediately transitioned to Zoom and my academic progress continued uninterrupted. I like Zoom classes because all the information is provided in an accessible way. As long as you communicate with your instructors when issues come up, they are always accommodating and flexible. During my first week, I was affected by the Dolan fire, which we could see from my office. My instructor understood and helped me get through the course while juggling that stressful situation.
 
What advice do you have for prospective students?
 
I believe it’s up to the student to put in the time and effort to learn. Take advantage of the instruction videos and all of the readings assigned. Make sure you plan out when you will write your posts for online discussion forums. And if you have any questions or issues, post them to the discussion thread or ask your instructors.  They will find a way to help you succeed.
 
What’s next for you?
 
I’m graduating this fall and plan to apply for a master’s program in the spring.
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