We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.
Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.
Read Part 1 of #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday here.
Graduate Professional Studies: I’m here with Kristin Cataquet, a student in our Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.
Kristin Cataquet: Thank you! My name is Kristin Cataquet. I’m from Washington D.C. but currently live in Boston.
GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?
KC: I have taken six courses, and I’m taking two this semester.
GPS: Wow, you’re almost done!
KC: Yes, and I am very excited about that!
GPS: Tell me more about what you do for work.
KC: I am a quality data analyst at Keurig Green Mountain, the single-serve coffee brewer. My responsibilities differ by the hour. I often work with engineers and leadership; looking at different analytical models to gain insight and make better decisions for our company.
GPS: What made you want to go back to school to get your graduate degree?
KC: When I was moving to Boston, I realized that a lot of the jobs that I was applying to preferred candidates with master’s degrees. I decided to do some research and see what kind of graduate programs are out there, and Brandeis came up. I travel a lot for work, and Strategic Analytics was one of the only programs that offered the subject matter I wanted while still enabling me to do my job the way I need to.
At first, I was just looking for that graduate school check mark. But since starting classes and even before then, I started to realize that I really do enjoy bettering myself and becoming better every day. GPS has really helped me fulfill that want and that need.
GPS: That’s great to hear, and it also segues into my next question: what made you choose Brandeis over the other schools you considered?
KC: It was a combination of the online nature of the program, the availability of the instructors and just the overall coursework. I took an online class during undergrad and felt like I did not learn anything and was under-challenged. But it’s a completely different story at GPS. The program is incredibly challenging, and I find it awesome and effective in terms of learning and retaining the information because while you’re partially self-teaching, you have guidance. You have the advantage of studying subject matter that is as high-level or low-level as you want. That option is necessary for students in analytics, where every job and company is different. You want to learn as much as possible in as little amount of time to make yourself more valuable.
GPS: What else do you hope to get out of this program?
KC: I work in a company where analytics is a relatively new field, and a lot of the higher-level employees in our department have left. This has given lower-level employees the opportunity to lead the way, and it would be great to be able to do that accurately and effectively. So, my goal is not necessarily a promotion, but to feel more confident in my own abilities and what I’m capable of doing. I’ve learned that I really do love what I do. It’s kind of like figuring out that you’re a really good soccer player and then pushing yourself to become a professional soccer player. I’ve realized that I’m good at this, but I want to be really good at this.
GPS: Speaking of soccer, what are some of your hobbies outside Keurig and the classroom?
KC: Besides my full-time job, I work part-time at my old company. Outside of that, I probably play volleyball four times a week and my husband and I do a lot of salsa dancing. We love to hike and we love to travel.
GPS: Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience with Graduate Professional Studies?
KC: When I came into the program, I really thought it was going to solely focus on analytics — that I would learn tools about modeling and other new skills. And that’s partially what’s happening. But there is also a whole other level to the program that’s surprised me: it’s learning about leadership, being a good employee and being a good boss. It’s learning to conduct yourself more professionally, building communications skills, and changing your approach to how you view a company. I didn’t necessarily know that I needed those types of skills, but all of the sudden, even after just my first term at Brandeis, I’ve realized I know so much more about my company and how it operates. It has been really rewarding to not only acquire skills on the technical level but on the leadership and professional level as well.
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