2017 Success Stories: Analytics of success at BGSU

Ambition joined challenges, opportunities for Amala Umakanth

By Kandace York

Amala Umakanth knew an international graduate degree would help her career, but she faced some unusual challenges. She was married with a young son, lived in India and didn’t know anyone in the United States.

“It was so important to me, but I didn’t know how it could happen,” she said.

When one of her friends completed a master’s degree in Ohio, Umakanth started exploring other Ohio universities online. During her research, Bowling Green State University’s Graduate College kept surfacing, and the more she learned about it, the more she liked it.

“BGSU offered a Master of Science degree in Analytics that just seemed like a perfect fit,” she said. “It would take only 10 to 11 months to complete the degree, instead of one year or even two like other schools. I was also quite impressed with the curriculum, which was very comprehensive and in-depth. And then the fee structure that BGSU offers was the final thing that made it possible.”

Although Umakanth knew the difference that this degree could make to her professional life, she struggled with the decision to leave her husband and young son behind for almost a year.

“I missed his third birthday,” she said quietly, adding, “He was born on the Fourth of July.”

Umakanth said she expected a rigorous, hands-on program to enhance the skills and knowledge she had already built in computer science. What she hadn’t expected was the friendly atmosphere at BGSU.

“In India, education is concept-oriented and textbook-oriented, but in America, and at BGSU, education is more application-based. Right away, we get to apply what we study.”

“I’ve made friends here, good friends,” she said. “Everyone at BGSU, from International Student Services to the Graduate College to all my professors – they all felt connected. Everyone has been very helpful, very approachable.”

The welcome she received made it easier to adjust to the changes that come with pursuing a graduate degree in a foreign country. Her education and experience had prepared her well for the program, which teaches students how to make sense of data so that businesses can use the information as a predictive tool. To achieve this, the University draws interdisciplinary faculty from business, computer science and statistics.

It was BGSU’s approach to education that was quite different from what she had known.

“In India, education is concept-oriented and textbook-oriented,” Umakanth said. “But in America, and at BGSU, education is more application-based. Right away, we get to apply what we study.”

BGSU’s emphasis on real-world experiences was another aspect of her degree that surprised and impressed her.

“I met so many real corporate managers who came to our classes to talk with us, and I was able to interact directly with them,” she said. “I have also enjoyed the discussions and student presentations in class; they will help me to be a better professional.”

Umakanth said her BGSU experiences will be an important part of her career success when she returns to India later this year.

“I am excited to be graduating,” she said. “To me and my family, this is a huge thing.”