Deja Bond (GSAS ‘20)

Photo credit: Ira Bond Jr.

For Deja Bond (GSAS ’20), success is all about the long game. As the first African American alumna of the top-ranked Master’s in Data Science program at NYU, she is used to breaking barriors to achieve her goals. Her advice to others? Stay focused, even when the finish line is not visible. Being an achiever is not about being the smartest person in the room, it’s about persevering long enough to meet your goals.  

Why did you choose to enroll in NYU’s Data Science program?

I chose to enroll because I once had an internship at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, where I worked on a project to create an algorithm to identify the predominant colors within an image that would work on a mass scale. I enjoyed that project at the Smithsonian so much that I decided to go to graduate school for Data Science, and NYU has one of the top Data Science was always my dream to live in New York, especially Brooklyn and I fell in love with NYU after doing my research on the program.

How does it feel to make history as the first African American alumna of this program? Do you have any advice for underrepresented students who want to pursue this degree?

It is still news for me honestly. When I look back on my journey from being waitlisted, to enrolling while working full-time, I never thought I would be the woman making history. I sometimes felt out of place and not as intelligent as my peers. There was an especially low point for me during my program when I lost my grandmother, who was extremely important to me. The loss set me back. Over time, I realized it is not about being the smartest, it is about having perseverance.

I am honored to have accomplished this achievement and my advice to others like myself would be to not take rejection to heart, but to believe in what your heart says. There may be big hurdles, but you are much more powerful than you think. Be humble but don’t be quiet.

How did the COVID-19 epidemic affect your final year at NYU? What did you learn from this experience?

Midway through the semester all classes and meetings went online. Like everyone else, we students stayed in our homes and stopped having in-person social activities. The response to COVID-19 was drastic, but I cannot complain because I know many people who have lost family members to this epidemic. I am still learning; this pandemic is having many different effects. I believe the one of the most important things to take away from this experience is evaluating what is important to you. Make your days count.

NYU is sometimes described as a school that’s “in and of the city” how has that been true for you?

I love NYU. It is very much a big part of the city, which is why I choose to stay here after graduation and hope to further my career. I’m excited to stay involved and contribute to the Center for Data Science in any way that I can.

What are your plans now that you’ve graduated?

My passion for applied analytics has brought me to pursue a career as a Product Manager with Machine Learning specialization. Product management is an interdisciplinary field, combining business, customer experience, and applied technology through execution and visionary foresight. I have not yet selected an offer, but I will be deciding soon, I am weighing all factors, company culture is very important to me.