Brandeis GPS Blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Category: Student Spotlights (page 1 of 6)

Featured Graduate: Danny Diep

Danny DiepDanny Diep, Embedded Software Engineer

Program: Robotic Software Engineering

Graduation: May 2023

One of the reasons I chose GPS was specifically for the Master’s Degree in Robotic Software Engineering. I was drawn to this degree because it is different from Computer Science while also allowing me to gain specialized skills. After graduation, I plan to stay at my current company and hope to get promoted to Principal Engineer. Having a master’s degree will allow me certain opportunities to move forward in my career.  

The best part of GPS was that, throughout my coursework, I had the opportunity to work on real-world projects and gain experience with industry-standard tools and technologies. This practical experience was invaluable in preparing me for a career in the rapidly growing field of robotics. I enjoyed the experience of building robots and programming them, and look forward to using them for future independent projects. 

Another highlight of the Brandeis GPS program was the supportive and dedicated faculty and staff. I always felt that I had access to expert guidance and support, whether it was through office hours, online discussions, or collaborative projects with other students. Class sizes were small, and everyone was extremely knowledgeable and had industry experience.  

Earning a master’s degree has helped me gain experience that will allow me to advance my career. I am glad that I chose to pursue a degree in robotics because it allowed for personal enrichment.

For more information on our programs, visit our website.

Featured Graduate: Refaya Priya

Refaya PriyaRefaya Priya, Global Marketing Specialist, Intertek

Program: Digital Marketing and Design

Graduation: May 2023

My experience at Brandeis has been a game changer for me, both in my professional and personal life. Earning my MS in Digital Marketing and Design has helped me get to where I am now in many ways.

I earned my undergraduate from UMass Lowell, and I knew I wanted to earn my master’s. When I found the Digital Marketing and Design program at Brandeis GPS online, I was intrigued. The application process was simple, and the admissions team was supportive. I applied and was accepted, and I knew this was a huge accomplishment.

I began working as a Sales Coordinator at Intertek in November 2019. Even though I was new to marketing, I found myself engrossed in the world of digital marketing as a result of working with such an incredible team. The skills I gained in the Digital Marketing and Design MS at Brandeis have helped me advance within the company. I was later brought into projects for technical marketing, working alongside the web design and social media team, and I am now working with the Global Marketing team.

Refaya PriyaOutside of my full-time role, I’ve also been able to use the skills I gained in my program at Brandeis in my role at Tamrochura Dance School. The dance school is the only Bangladeshi dance school in Massachusetts. Using my experience from Intertek and Brandeis, I developed their website and marketing strategy. I have loved working with the community at this dance school and in the surrounding New England area.

The people I met during this journey have been incredible. I’ve learned so much about the industry and the challenges that exist, and I have been inspired to pursue a career that I’m truly passionate about and to never give up on my dreams. I would like to thank my professors, especially Meredith Fortney, Andrew Schall, Ross Morrone, and Laura Hindman.

I would also like to thank my Student Advisor, Nicole Russo, for supporting me and helping me realize my educational goals; I’m grateful to have had her as an advisor.

Earning my master’s degree is one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my life, bringing with it a sense of pride and personal fulfillment.

For more information on the MS in Digital Marketing and Design or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Featured Graduate: Christopher Tran

Christopher TranChristopher Tran, Associate Scientist, Gritstone Bio

Program: Bioinformatics

Graduation: May 2023

Throughout my career, I have learned many different laboratory techniques, interpreted sample data, and scientific writing. I have always wanted to learn to program, but it was difficult to do on my own. When I found the Bioinformatics MS at Brandeis GPS, it seemed like a great fit. I chose Brandeis because they gave me the guidance, support, and opportunity to achieve my goals. The last two years at Brandeis was a great experience. It was encouraging to see how much support I had from my classmates and professors. Each professor has given me a new skill set that can be applied to my day-to-day work. The coursework is also very relevant to the professional work I do. I think Brandeis GPS team has done a great job in giving relevant material along in a challenging way to help the students learn and grow.   

In the Oncology field, I am trying to apply the bioinformatics skills I have gained in my day-to-day work. I am able to implement all my new bioinformatics knowledge in my career, whether using my programming skills to implement a better aggregation process or visually seeing the data better with graphs. With the help of each course at Brandeis, not only was I able to learn to program, but also to interpret data in an analytical way. The future right now for me is very unknown, but what I personally know is that Brandeis GPS has set me up for a better opportunity.

I think it is great that a small desire to learn a skill has turned into a major milestone in my life. I believe anyone can achieve this accomplishment with any help and support. I could not be more grateful for everyone in my life, especially for the Brandeis community and my support system (friends, coworkers, and family) for helping me with my accomplishment. I encourage everyone with small curiosities to apply and strive for their goals to make a bigger impact on their future.   

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

Featured Graduate: Ruth Hackett

Ruth Hackett, Program Planner, University of Vermont

Program: Project and Program Management

Graduation: May 2023

After completing my undergraduate degree in business administration, I was initially confident my bachelor’s degree credentials were all I needed to get where I wanted to be professionally. When asked if I was considering a master’s degree, I said no without hesitation. However, my perspective quickly changed after entering the job market and realizing that continuing my education was essential to staying competitive and advancing professionally.

I chose the MS in Project and Program Management program at Brandeis GPS because the curriculum aligned perfectly with my interests. While I enjoyed the courses I took for my undergraduate degree, I struggled with courses like accounting, finance, and economics.  The MS in Project and Program Management curriculum offered courses that allowed me to elevate my strengths and pursue topics I enjoyed.  It was the ideal mix of applied and practical skills along with soft skills that are critical to being a successful team player, project manager, and leader. 

In the Project Scheduling and Cost Management course, I was assigned a project that required me to build a work breakdown structure for an upcoming event in Smartsheet, following specific budget, schedule, and scope parameters. Smartsheet was a new tool for me, but the assignment gave students the flexibility to approach the project differently and come to unique solutions. It also provided me with hands-on experience in a project management tool that is widely used throughout the industry. I connected with other students in the course online and regularly met with them to discuss our approaches and understanding of the tool, which helped deepen my understanding of project scheduling, Smartsheet, and my relationships with classmates which carried through other courses. 

When interviewing for my current role as a program planner with the University of Vermont, I was asked to present my approach to a project scenario that was relevant to the position. When reviewing the scenario, I knew exactly how I wanted to organize my presentation. I immediately drew on my skills from the project scheduling course, broke the tasks down in Smartsheet, and gave a formal presentation during my interview.  Since I had completed eight of the 10 courses in Brandeis’ Project and Program Management program, I had a strong foundation in project management. With the necessary skills and tools, the initial steps and organization were obvious to me. I was able to clearly articulate my project management approach, and I got the job!

Now that I have been working in my current position for over a year, I find myself using the skills I gained from my master’s education every day, whether it is from understanding team dynamics and motivating others to leaderships skills and scheduling projects within a realistic budget, scope, and schedule. I am confident in my decisions and the skills I bring to my team, which has been a huge asset for me in both my professional and personal life.

For more information on the MS in Project and Program Management or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

Featured Graduate: Sebastien Chery

Sebastien Chery

Program: User-Centered Design

Graduation: May 2023

During my final semesters of undergrad, I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate professional degree that would prepare me for the career I desired. After careful consideration, I decided to enroll in the User-Centered Design program offered by Brandeis GPS. I was drawn to this program because of Brandeis’ reputation and because it offered a comprehensive curriculum that aligned with my career goals.

Throughout my time in the program, I focused on preparing for life after graduation. As a student, I built connections and accessed UX internships that helped me expand my network and gain valuable experience. I have used these connections and skills to secure a position in the field of UX and will continue to grow as a professional.

One of the highlights of my GPS experience was collaborating with classmates who came from diverse professional backgrounds. Working with musicians, architects, psychologists, and much more, gave me a unique perspective on how different disciplines approach UX. I learned how to incorporate these perspectives into my own work, and I gained a deeper appreciation for the value of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Earning my master’s degree in User-Centered Design means a great deal to me. It represents the culmination of my academic journey and fulfills my goal of completing my overall education in design. I feel confident that the knowledge and skills I gained in the program have prepared me to succeed in the field of UX and to make meaningful contributions to the industry.

Overall, I am grateful for the opportunities, experiences, and connections that the User-Centered Design program provided me. I am excited to take the next steps in my career and to continue learning and growing as a professional in the field of UX.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight

Headshot of Yusing Tsou

Yusing Tsou, Digital Marketing and Design ’23

The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

In an effort to celebrate the AAPI community at GPS, we wanted to highlight Yusing Tsou, a full-time student in the Digital Marketing and Design Program at Brandeis GPS.

We were grateful for the opportunity to talk to Yusing about her heritage, and are excited to share her interview below.

Interview with Yusing Tsou

How do you identify within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?

I identify as Chinese-Japanese American.

Who is an AAPI figure that you especially look up to?

I admire Anna May Wong, a pioneer in American film and the first Chinese American movie star. To me, Wong is an inspiration for courage.

What is a piece of advice you would give to AAPI identifying students at Brandeis GPS?

Everyone has their own story, and this month I invite you to explore what it means to be you. I also encourage you to be open to the possibility that your narrative might change with time.

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

In my family, education is very important. My parents grew up in post-World War II Asia, and the wisdom they passed down to me roughly translates to: people can take away your beauty, loved ones, and possessions, but no one can take away your education and knowledge.

With this in mind, during AAPI Heritage Month, my tradition is to revisit what it means to be me and reflect on where I want my education to take me in life.

To learn more about Yusing and her time at GPS, read her Student Spotlight on the GPS blog.

Student Spotlight: Yusing Tsou

Meet Yusing Tsou ’23

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Full-time Student

MS in Digital Marketing and Design

In her spare time, Yusing likes to attend live rock shows, reverse engineer recipes, and volunteer for various non-profits throughout the year.

Get to know Yusing!

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS? 

Brandeis GPS was the right choice for me — as an American living abroad, my MS needs to be globally recognized. Brandeis University has an excellent reputation in the United States and abroad, plus the Digital Marketing program is ranked highly. 

What inspired you to choose your field of study? (How did you discover the field? What motivated you to pursue further education?)

​​I was invited to work on a boutique law firm’s website, blog, and social media channels. This opportunity helped me realize that I have a knack for digital marketing. Specifically, I found analytics fascinating. I discovered a whole world of data behind the interface and wanted to explore more.

 How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?

Something that I appreciate about Brandeis is that each instructor will give students the tools necessary to succeed, regardless of their past experience with digital marketing. It is then on the student to determine the quality of education they experience.

For example, my first class was intimidating — it felt like all my classmates were experts, and here I was with (what felt like) no real experience. I persevered by taking advantage of all the class tools provided and reading all the resources suggested by the instructor to fill-in my knowledge gap. As I have taken more Brandeis classes, my foundation of knowledge has built over time into a solid understanding of digital marketing best practices. 

Additionally, I enjoy connecting with my classmates. I have made a few dear friendships at Brandeis GPS, and we have supported each other in completing the program.

What has been your favorite class to-date? Why?

I do not have a favorite class because all of my classes have been equally helpful in developing my career. I have enjoyed learning from a few key faculty members: Meredith Fortney, Ross Morrone, Garrett Gillin, David Lumerman, Mary Caraccioli, Edward Gazarian, and Sarah McMaster.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I am in my last session before completing the MS program, and I hope to finish strong.

What are your plans for after graduation?

As the global economy recovers from COVID, I plan on keeping an open mind about job opportunities. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

  1. Get familiar with your syllabus;
  2. Learn keyboard shortcuts; and
  3. Get comfortable with ambiguity.

For more information on the MS in Digital Marketing and Design or any other GPS programs, visit our website.


Featured Graduate: Melanie Lukac

Melanie LukacMelanie Lukac, Co-Founder and Content Creator at Dicky Waffles

Program: Digital Marketing and Design

Graduation: May 2023

One of the main reasons I chose Brandeis GPS was its flexibility. As a working professional, I needed a program that would allow me to study at my own pace and on my schedule. GPS provided that and more. I was able to connect with students from all over the world, which gave me a global perspective on digital marketing. I also chose GPS for the quality of education. Brandeis is known for its rigorous academic programs, and GPS was no exception. The courses were challenging but rewarding, and I felt like I was truly learning the skills I needed to succeed in my career. 

Now that I’ve graduated, I’m excited to see where my degree takes me. I plan to use the skills I’ve learned to advance my career in digital marketing. I also hope to stay connected with the Brandeis community and take advantage of any networking opportunities that come my way. 

One of the highlights of my experience at Brandeis GPS was the opportunity to work on real-world projects. In one of my courses, we were tasked with developing a digital marketing campaign for a local business. It was a great experience to apply what I was learning in the classroom to a real-world scenario. 

 One of the things that stood out to me about Brandeis GPS was the emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. I was able to work closely with my classmates on group projects and assignments. This not only helped me develop my teamwork skills but also allowed me to learn from my peers’ unique perspectives and experiences. 

I felt like I was part of a community through this online program. The teachers were friendly and approachable, and my classmates were supportive and enriched my learning with their weekly assignments and feedback.

Earning a master’s degree from Brandeis GPS means a lot to me. It represents the hard work and dedication I put into my education, and it also signifies my commitment to my career. Having a master’s degree in Digital Marketing and Design will open up new opportunities for me and help me achieve my professional goals. My experience at Brandeis GPS was incredibly rewarding, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have earned my master’s degree. I look forward to using the skills I’ve learned to have a positive impact in the world of digital marketing and design.

For more information on the Digital Marketing and Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit

Alumni Spotlight: Han Ngo

Headshot of Han Ngo

Meet Han Ngo ’22

Boston, MA

Sr. Project Manager, Lab and Sample Management at Rhythm Pharmaceuticals

MS in Project and Program Management

In her free time, Han likes to eat at new restaurants and try different types of food, hike, and go on road trips.

Get to know Han! 

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree?

I decided to pursue a master’s degree to learn more about the business world and operations within an organization. In my work experience, we are continually collaborating and working cross functionally. 

What was your most valued experience at GPS?

My most valued experiences were the interactions and collaborative work I did with other students. I learned about my own leadership skills, which has helped me to identify my strengths and assist others with successfully completing projects.

How has your GPS degree prepared you for life after graduation?

The degree helped me unravel a multitude of layers in project and program management. I have gained an understanding of others’ perspectives, which has helped us successfully work together. I’ve learned how to build a structural foundation to maximize the prospect of successes, and how to reach milestones in the most effective way possible.

What strategies did you find helpful as you balanced responsibilities in work, school, and life?

Outside of my support system, scheduling was the most helpful approach for balancing work, school, and my personal life. Creating a strict schedule created boundaries with work and helped me to separate priorities between work and school.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Make the best use of your interactions with your classmates. The courses are small enough that you will know the other students throughout your time in the program. The discussions and group projects help with expanding your approach to different methodologies in the workplace — take advantage of them!

To learn more about the MS in Project and Program Management or any other GPS programs, please visit our website.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Picture of Nygil Hayward in front of a sparkly blue backdropStudent Spotlight

Nyjil Hayward ’24


Lab Manager I: Laboratory Informatics at Delaware Public Health Laboratory

Program: MS in Bioinformatics

In his free time, Nyjil likes to play basketball, go to the beach, and hang out with family.

Get to know Nyjil Hayward! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?
When I was searching for a Bioinformatics program, Brandeis immediately caught my attention. The curriculum not only offered courses that were relevant to my current occupation, but also a range of other bioinformatics applications that piqued my interest. The program’s online learning format allows me to complete the degree at my own pace. This makes it an ideal fit for a full-time working professional like me. All in all, I believe that Brandeis’ program is the perfect choice for me to advance my career in the field of Bioinformatics.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?
I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and I had limited knowledge about bioinformatics until I stumbled upon the field while working as a molecular biologist performing NGS protocols on clinical COVID specimens. As I gained more experience in sequencing, I started collaborating closely with the lab’s sole bioinformatician. This experience sparked my curiosity in bioinformatic analyses and motivated me to delve deeper into the field. Gradually, I found myself increasingly drawn to the subject matter and eventually decided this is what I wanted to pursue.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far?
My experience at Brandeis has been nothing short of amazing. Despite the occasional challenges in coursework, I find the material fascinating and the instructors to be exceptionally supportive. Through my studies, I have acquired a set of valuable skills that I have already been able to apply in my day-to-day activities at my current job.

What has been your favorite class to-date?
My favorite class has been RBIF 111: Biomedical Statistics with R. While I have always been fond of science, my passion for mathematics is unmatched. When selecting this program, I made it a priority to learn how to use R. With this class, I had the perfect blend of both worlds — the opportunity to refresh and hone my statistical skills while also learning how to effectively use R.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis?
As I transition into latter half of the program, I’m looking forward to continuing to explore the various bioinformatics applications in this industry.

What are your plans for after graduation?

Currently, I am working in a role that allows me to undertake various bioinformatics tasks, as well as oversee the department and serve as a Laboratory Information Systems Administrator. Pursuing this degree will not only supplement my existing knowledge and skill set but will also equip me with the necessary expertise to spearhead the development of the Laboratory Informatics department at DPHL.

What advice would you give to upcoming students?

My best advice would be don’t hesitate to utilize the discussion boards and seek help from your peers. Apart from textbooks and the professor, your classmates are a valuable resource. Additionally, the forums serve as a platform to ask questions and seek guidance, which can potentially offer benefits to other students.

For more information on the MS in Bioinformatics or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

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