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Maki Villano Is Earning His Master in Data Science While Balancing Work and Family


Karim Makisig “Maki” Villano studied electrical engineering as an undergraduate. He took on various IT roles over the last two decades and is currently a senior solutions architect at an IT services company. He soon became drawn to data science, recognizing that it was a growing field with high demand for skilled practitioners. Maki felt he could compete in the industry, but he needed to better understand data science techniques, tools, and technologies and how they overlapped with his work in IT.

He was interested in earning a master’s, but as a single father living in the Philippines, he needed to find a program that would allow him to learn the necessary skills without uprooting his life, work, or family. He was also concerned that he didn’t have a great deal of foundational data science knowledge.

When Maki found the Master of Science in Data Science (MS-DS) from the University of Colorado Boulder on Coursera, he was immediately attracted to the school’s excellent reputation and excited about the performance-based admissions structure. His lack of experience wouldn’t be an issue, and he could get started right away.

“In other programs, I would have waited months to hear back about my admission. With CU Boulder, I could jump right in and not waste any time.”

Maki enrolled in the Pathway Specialization, a 3-course series focusing on either statistics or computer science. By completing all three courses in one pathway with a cumulative 3.0 GPA or better, you’re immediately admitted to the program. This was perfect for Maki.

Once enrolled in the full master’s program, Maki was happy to find that the online format and in-course tools allowed him to process and absorb the material on his own time. He could absorb lectures while washing the dishes or folding laundry and rewatch videos until he fully understood each topic. He especially enjoyed his course with Dr. Anne Dougherty, who teaches Probability Theory: Foundation for Data Science:

“Dr. Anne Dougherty takes the care to explain the material and provides many ways of looking at a concept.”

Just one year into the program, Maki is already applying his new learnings to his current role;

“When we have to propose systems at work, my new statistics knowledge helps me calculate the parameters myself and make them more exact, and this allows me to do my work better.”

This fully online Master of Science in Data Science (MS-DS) from the University of Colorado Boulder is an ideal choice for career-focused learners eager to benefit from a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach. This program leverages unparalleled faculty expertise across statistics, data science, computer science, natural language processing, information science, and more.

Learn more and enroll

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