Ada Li

“The DATS Program has successfully encapsulated my interests and created a desirable framework for my past and future coursework.”




B.S.E in Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania


Reading, MA


What was your background before joining the Data Science (DATS) Program?

As an undergraduate student in SEAS, I am majoring Systems Science and Engineering and minoring in Computer Science.

What drew you study Data Science?

I have always enjoyed working with numbers and narratives. What drew me further into the computational side of data science was my experience as a Teaching Assistant for CIS105. As a TA, I got the opportunity to learn and work with the tools and concepts which open doors to data science and its applications. I discovered that I really enjoyed teaching and working with data sets and performing computational tasks to answer interesting and important questions.

Why the MSE in Data Science at Penn?

I am grateful to have been a student at Penn while the MSE in Data Science first started being offered. Even as an undergraduate student in Systems Engineering, my coursework had always leaned towards the computational side. I particularly enjoyed taking courses in the CIS and NETS departments beyond what was originally required of me. The program has given me space in my curriculum to take more of these classes while focusing on my interest in data science. Thus, the DATS Program has successfully encapsulated my interests and created a desirable framework for my past and future coursework.

In what ways has the Data Science Program helped you to reach your goals?

Education has been a tremendous joy in my life, and the Data Science Program has made it possible for me to specialize my coursework in a way that fulfills both graduate and undergraduate credits. Through the Data Science Program, I am able to take courses that genuinely interest me and I am confident that the tools I am learning now in the classroom will help me in the future.

What did you do to relax and have fun outside of school?

On campus, I am part of the Pan-Asian Dance Troupe and a CIS TA. I enjoy reading and traveling with friends and family.

What advice do you have for prospective students on the application process?

I feel that everyone’s experiences are different and extremely valuable, and that everyone can get to a similar place through many different paths. My advice would be to make a narrative out of your own unique experiences and express how they make you a strong and interesting candidate for the program. Reach out to peers and professors in the programs you are interested in and see what sort of experiences helped them get to where they are now.