The Changemaking Power of Data: Bailie Wynbelt, BSIS '24

May 28, 2024


Bailie Wynbelt

Bailie Wynbelt, BSIS '24, iSchool Spring 2024 Outstanding Senior.

Data holds so much power in our daily lives, and I love the idea that I can help facilitate change with my degree!

Grand Rapids, Michigan native Bailie Wynbelt came to UArizona because of our welcoming campus and expansive undergraduate research opportunities. As a Bachelor of Science in Information Science student, they pursued the Data Science emphasis area, finding a dynamic new way to address both local and global issues such as climate change. Wynbelt, who graduated this spring, was named the iSchool’s Outstanding Senior and Spring 2024 Convocation undergraduate speaker.

What brought you to the University of Arizona?

Originally from Michigan, I knew I wanted to move west. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to tour the University of Arizona’s campus, and I knew I had to attend. The university has a welcoming campus that truly supports students. The supportive aspect is what brought me to UA. I knew that by attending, if I had a particular interest in a field, these interests would be supported, and I could explore them. I was also drawn to the expansive research opportunities on campus.

Tell us about your BS in Information Science emphasis area.

My emphasis area is Data Science. I particularly enjoy working with large datasets and finding meaning from something that previously did not have meaning. What really excites me is the fact that this data can be used to drive change in the world around us. Data holds so much power in our daily lives, and I love the idea that I can help facilitate change with my degree!

Bailie Wynbelt moderates a tech spaces panel

Bailie Wynbelt moderates a discussion panel focused on inclusivity in tech spaces. Photo by Michael McKisson.

What do you like best about the Bachelor's in Information Science?

What I like best about the Information Science program is how flexible it is! In my junior year, I switched degrees from Natural Resources. The iSchool allowed me to take classes both in-person and online, allowing me flexibility to expand my knowledge outside of the classroom through internships and research. The program also offers a class for everyone! If you are interested in a particular topic, there is a class you can take.

What has been your biggest challenge at UArizona, and how have you overcome that challenge?

My biggest challenge at UArizona has been finding my specific path for what I want to study. Originally, I started as a natural resource major, where I found myself wishing I could focus more on the data analytics side of the degree. After talking to my advisors and professors, I realized I could pursue data science as a degree through the emphasis area in the Bachelor of Science in Information Science. The hardest part of this challenge was simply overcoming my fear of failure when switching degrees. After switching, I made sure to apply myself and introduce myself to professors. I was able to find community and a sense of belonging in the iSchool and overcome my initial fears.

Bailie Wynbelt in San Francisco

Bailie recently traveled to San Francisco for a conference, where she also visited Golden Gate Bridge Park. Photo courtesy Bailie Wynbelt.

Tell us about your recent job experience as well as your career aspirations.

Last summer, I was involved at Virga Labs as a website and database developer. In this role, I assisted in modernizing an application focused on collecting funding information on projects associated with the Colorado River Basin. This experience opened my eyes to how data science and computing are increasingly important when it comes to the mitigation of climate change!

Longer term, my career aspirations are to be involved in the furtherment of inclusivity of tech spaces (both in classrooms and industry). Particularly, I am interested in program management and facilitation.

What extracurricular academic activities are you involved with?

Recently, I planned and moderated a discussion panel called Breaking Barriers: Inclusive Strategies for Shattering Gender Norms in the Tech Space. This event is near and dear to my heart as it is something I am very passionate about. While initially nerve-wracking, it was amazing to interview and interact with community professionals and hear their experiences.

Before the end of the semester, I also participated in the Women’s Hackathon by teaching a Python lesson focused on data wrangling for beginners. Additionally, I was a panelist at the Women in Data Science Worldwide Tucson Conference, where we discussed nontraditional paths to data science. These events have helped me connect with my community on campus and form lifelong connections!

What do you enjoy in you free time outside of school?

Outside of school, I enjoy exploring new restaurants and hiking spots in Tucson. I also enjoy reading or practicing with my film camera when I have the time.

What advice do you have for prospective iSchool students?

My advice for prospective iSchool students is to apply yourself as much as you can. Introduce yourself to professors, ask questions and get to know your classmates. There are plenty of opportunities within the iSchool in terms of classes and activities. If you put yourself out there, you will find that the iSchool has a great community of students and professionals who are there to help and support you.

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