#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · inspiration · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Schinria Islam

Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Graduating from Columbia with my Masters in May 2016

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I recently graduated from Columbia University with a Masters in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences with a focus in Data Science. In undergrad, I majored in Economics and Psychology and minored in Math and Applied Statistics. In short: I love data and people!

I am a first-generation Bengali-American, and my parents immigrated to the United States 27 years ago. I was blessed to be born in the US, but exposure to poverty and inequality while visiting Bangladesh at a young age played a huge role in my development and in shaping my interests, so even as I’ve explored different roles in research and analytics, I’ve always been primarily guided by my desire to improve the human condition.

What # would define your life journey?
The number 1– because no matter how many times I fail or face rejection in my life, I fundamentally believe that all I need to do is try one more time. Of course, I tell myself this every time– which might be cheating, but this growth mentality has made a huge impact in the way I have overcome adversity and faced challenges throughout my life. I truly believe I can achieve and learn anything if I break it down into small, achievable goals and take it one step at a time.

Facing my fear of heights at The Cliffs in Long Island City, NY!

Favorite website / app:
Favorite website: Stack Overflow. For obvious reasons: it helps me overcome programming challenges on the reg. Thank you Stack Overflow!

Favorite app: Trello. When I get cool research ideas, the Trello app helps me keep track of them and organize my thoughts, even when I’m away from my computer.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted (if any):
Someone who has inspired me a lot this year is my friend and colleague, Kristy Choi. Kristy is the President of the Columbia Data Science Society and an undergrad at Columbia who studies Computer Science and Statistics. Kristy is 5 years younger than me, but she is someone I look up to tremendously. She exemplifies the values I strive to uphold as I pursue my career: knowledge, charisma, independence, ambition, and humility. She is an awesome human being, and watching her succeed in many ways motivates and inspires me to be my best too.


Blending into nature at Riverside Park in Morningdale Heights / Harlem, NY

Song that makes you want to dance:
Work From Home by Fifth Harmony is my jam right now– and empowered me to finish writing my Masters thesis, considering I was working from home for a very long time!

Technical challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
For my Masters thesis, I wanted to do a data science project that analyzed how Muslims and non-Muslims expressed feelings towards the religion of Islam on Twitter. In light of recent global events and perspectives (and under-representation of this area in the literature), I knew this research needed to be done, so I figured I should dedicate my Masters research to studying and shedding light on this topic. Since there’s no definitive way to measure one’s religious beliefs on Twitter (or on social media, in general), I had to be creative in tackling the issue. After streaming 1.184 million tweets in early April 2016 through R using Twitter’s API, I classified each tweet’s author (and original author, if a retweet) as either “Muslim” or “Not Muslim” using an algorithm I wrote that matches author names with a separate list of ~3,500 Muslim names I gathered and cleaned. After classifying users by that criteria, I conducted sentiment and quantitative text analysis on their tweets about Islam and tested for statistically significant differences between the body of texts, or corpuses, encompassing their tweets.

Probably calling an Uber from one of my favorite places – the Presidio in SF.

Ideal Job:
My dream job lies somewhere at the intersection of data analysis, organizational behavior, leadership, and social impact. My dream company is one that would allow me to thrive in that role by welcoming new perspectives, encouraging diverse collaborations, and (as cheesy as it sounds) generally striving to make the world a better place.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?

  1. Ask for help and seek mentorship from those who inspire you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Follow your instincts about what is or isn’t worth your time—and about who should or shouldn’t be in your life.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Struggle comes with the territory of goal pursuit, so give yourself a fighting chance to succeed by not taking failures personally.
  4. Keep working hard in the direction of your dreams, learn new skills, and fiercely go after what you want.
Boating outside of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China!

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