Buffalo State student selected for SUNY Fellowship

SUNY Buffalo State student Terrence Wilson was one of eight students selected for the new SUNY Student Fellows program. It is designed to improve the student experience across all SUNY schools through the use of big data.

The student fellows program was announced Oct. 29 at the annual Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference in New York City. This year’s conference was titled Building a Smarter University: Big Data, Innovation and Ingenuity.

“It has been a great experience so far,” said Wilson, a computer information systems senior. He is also a teaching assistant and e-board member of the National Society of Black Engineers on campus.

The student fellows were present at the SUNY conference, where Wilson said they represented the student voice in a room filled with administrators, educators and industry representatives. Getting into the program was not easy.

Wilson was nominated for the program by Sarbani Banerjee, an associate professor in the CIS department at Buffalo State. Wilson is a teaching assistant in one of his programming classes.

Banerjee said that each of the 64 SUNY campuses were invited to nominate one student by early October, but no more than 12 students would be selected for the program. In the end, only eight made the cut.

“It’s a tough competition,” Banerjee said.

In order to be nominated, Wilson had to write two essays about how big data would affect his education and career. He said he only had a few days from when he learned about the program to apply.

“At first I couldn’t believe there was a chance I’d be selected,” Wilson said. “I knew there had to be thousands and thousands of very smart and hardworking students.”

The student fellows were selected from different majors, including health care, education, communications, and finances. All were selected based on their interest in becoming leaders of the big data movement in their respective fields.

Wilson described big data as the gigantic amounts of digital information being created in today’s world. It includes everything from databases and spreadsheets to tweets and Facebook posts.

“Every two days we create more data than we have from the start of mankind up until 2003,” Wilson said.

He said that companies are looking to hire data scientists who can analyze this information to improve their businesses.

According to Banerjee, the government has also been using big data to determine costs for things like health care coverage.

The Harvard Business Review listed data scientist as the “sexiest job of the 21st century” last year. That makes the job attractive to someone like Wilson, who said that he’s trying to get involved while the career is still relatively new.

Wilson said he hopes that the student fellows program will give him a chance to learn more about managing big data for businesses. He also hopes it will give him a chance to apply what he’s learned.

“I have already had the chance to meet and network with a lot of important people both in the academic and corporate worlds,” he said.

As part of the program, the student fellows are invited to attend conferences and meetings. They are also working on projects to improve the student experience in SUNY schools.

According to Wilson, the current class of student fellows will be in effect until next year. A new class of student fellows will be selected each year.

Email: [email protected]