The 1,000th SDS Graduate Crosses the Stage!

Categories: General News

In May 2024, the UNC Charlotte School of Data Science celebrated a significant milestone by awarding its 1000th degree. Griffin Corriher, a graduate of the undergraduate data science program and the Data Science and Business Analytics graduate program, had the honor of being the 1000th graduate. This achievement is a testament to the growth and impact of the School of Data Science. Griffin’s journey exemplifies the program’s ability to transform lives and careers through education and hands-on experience.

Griffin graduated in May 2023 as part of the second graduating class of the undergraduate data science program at UNC Charlotte. This program laid the groundwork for his career in data science, equipping him with essential knowledge in data science, statistics, and programming. Transitioning from a completely different career working as a Critical Facilities Engineer, Griffin had no prior background in math or data science. The undergraduate program provided a perfect starting point, setting him on a path toward mastering data science.

Initially, Griffin’s college goal was to complete the DSBA (Data Science and Business Analytics) program after earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Analytics from the Belk College of Business at UNC Charlotte. However, upon discovering the new undergraduate data science program, he saw an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with data science before pursuing a master’s degree. This decision proved to be pivotal.

The networking opportunities facilitated by the DSBA program were invaluable. Weekly and yearly events organized by the faculty and staff helped create a tight-knit community. He noted that “in some way, a lot of the alumni are a part of the program still, and to me that is amazing.” Overall, Griffin’s experience at UNC Charlotte was enriching, with a beautiful campus and a supportive faculty committed to student success.

When Griffin was exploring programs to transfer into at UNC Charlotte, the Belk College of Business was his top choice. His sister informed him about the new undergraduate degree in data science, which piqued his interest. Although it was a new program, Carly Mahedy, the program advisor, was incredibly helpful, answering all his questions and solidifying his decision to apply to SDS.

Both the undergraduate and DSBA programs equipped Griffin with essential skills in data analytics, data engineering, and data science. From learning basic Python skills to advanced machine learning methods, group projects, and presentations, he gained a comprehensive understanding of the field. These experiences prepared him for real-world scenarios, including defending his model decisions and outcomes during presentations.

Currently, Griffin is an Associate Data Scientist at The Hartford, starting full-time at the end of April 2024. His journey with The Hartford began as a Data Science Intern in the summer of 2023, on the same team he is with now, focused on personal auto insurance. This internship led to further opportunities, including roles as a Performance Analyst Intern and a Data Science Intern on different teams throughout the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024.

Working at The Hartford has been a positive experience for Griffin. The supportive and kind environment has been instrumental in his professional growth. In the Charlotte office, he works alongside several DSBA graduates, which has been a unique and enjoyable experience. Sharing common backgrounds and knowing the same professors has fostered a strong sense of camaraderie.

On his specific team, he works with five other DSBA alumni, including Maggie Mebane (Hakas). Maggie noted that all five alumni used their internship at The Hartford for school credit, and two landed their internship from attending SDS Monday Seminars! They are a very close group who love going to conferences together and bringing in more individuals to work at The Hartford. Maggie appreciates her time at UNC Charlotte, saying “the education we have all gained from SDS has set us up for success in The Hartford, which is truly how we all ended up on the same team.”

The Hartford’s staff of SDS alumni and current student interns, left to right: Grant Thornton, Jake Hoertt, Griffin Corriher, Carsten Lingemann, Maggie Hakas, Wesley Barnes, Allie Baker, Annie Illing, Xiaomeng Zhou, Reta Giblin

Griffin got married in the fall of 2018 and started school in the spring of 2019, balancing his education with family life. He worked full-time as a critical facilities engineer and a nuclear mechanic on an aircraft carrier until his 2023 internship, managing hours that allowed him to attend school full-time and complete his degrees as planned. Griffin and his wife welcomed their first child on July 31, 2022, just before he began the DSBA program. That semester was particularly challenging with long hours and sleepless nights, but it was incredibly rewarding.

Outside of work and school, Griffin enjoys being creative and using his prior experience to fix items that might be considered useless by others. He said, “Bringing something back to life instead of allowing it to be thrown away is so satisfying, even if it would have been easier to do so.” He enjoys fixing things that aren’t designed to be fixed by consumers. Recently, he 3D printed a piece that was no longer being sold by the manufacturer in order to fix his sister’s vintage food processor.

Griffin Corriher’s journey through UNC Charlotte’s data science programs and his subsequent career at The Hartford have been fulfilling and transformative. The skills and experiences he gained have prepared him well for a successful career in data science, and he looks forward to what the future holds.