From Political Science to Statistics

July 27, 2014
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My first choice was not a good fit

After the first year I realized that I had made the wrong choice, so I changed my major.  It was not an easy choice, actually quite painful, I must say. I felt the expectations of my parents, and I was living with that bad decision as if it were a defeat, an inevitable loss of time. But I also felt that I was not in the right place. And that malaise was an impetus for change. I did not talk to anyone; I did not ask advice from anyone.  One day I was at my desk reading the same page of a sociology textbook for the tenth time, and the next day I was sitting in my first class of Mathematical Analysis. I had changed my major to Statistics.

 

This was a huge change for me. I still remember that first day of Analysis.  They were talking about functions and the study of functions, but in high school I had not gone beyond the study of the properties of trigonometric functions. I had never even heard of first derivatives or the maximum or minimum of a function. But, even if I did not understand much of that lecture, I was not scared. I was thrilled, excited, happy and full of energy. I had just made the right choice, and I knew it.

 

I studied a lot, especially during the first two years. I had to make up for lost time and for foundational knowledge that I was lacking, but eventually I graduated with highest honors.

 

While in college, I met those whom I now consider to be my mentors, educators who made me discover the beauty of and passion for research. During those years, I began to study the basics of Operations Research and to understand the power of mathematical tools in solving real problems in various fields.

 

When I was about to graduate, I began to look for work. While I was writing my thesis, thanks to my advisor I got in touch with the Rome Agency for the Preparation of the Jubilee Year 2000. In my thesis I was working on problems related to the definition of optimum capacitated paths on an urban network with time constraints. These types of problems were perfectly in line with some of the interests of the agency, and I started working there immediately after graduation. The agency had been created for planning and coordinating various activities related to the Great Jubilee celebration, which was a very important event for the city of Rome. The Jubilee Year attracted millions of pilgrims, tourists, and curiosity seekers to the city of Rome.  The bottlenecks for the entire system were in Rome's hotel capacity, accessibility to sites, and traffic congestion in urban areas, problems for which Operations Research provides important tools. I actively participated in developing routes to attend services at facilities and in particular during the World Youth Day. Those two years were beautiful and full of human and professional experiences.


  
  

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