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Curtin University

  • 28% international / 72% domestic

Fatma Sehic

The opportunity to improve yourself personally, professionally, academically and socially is unlimited. Be brave enough to fail.

What did you study at the undergraduate and postgraduate level and when did you graduate?

I’m currently a third-year at Curtin University studying a Bachelor of Advanced Science, majoring in Data Science. Whilst studying, I’m also working at the Curtin Student Guild as the Faculty Representative for Science and Engineering.

2014 – 2017 – Girrawheen Senior High School. My alma mater played a strong role in connecting me with opportunities to explore my interests, build skills, and broaden my perspective. I was part of various maths and science programs that encouraged me to pursue a career in STEM and be passionate about the things happening in the field. One of my maths teachers was a driving force behind many of the amazing things I was able to learn at the school. He connected me with more opportunities than I can count and was my strongest pillar of support in my pursuit to further my knowledge, skills, and experience. Without this amazing teacher’s support, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

2017 – National Youth Science Forum. This was an incredible STEM program in Canberra that I attended in year 12 of high school. Coming out of this program, I had no doubt in my mind that I would continue to pursue STEM for the rest of my life. It empowered me to constantly strive to be the best scientist I can be and to inspire the younger generation to be amazing scientists too.

2017 – National University of Singapore Summer Science Camp. As part of this program, I spent a week in Singapore at the National University of Singapore, where I was able to experience STEM at an international level. It gave me a deeper understanding of how context influences how STEM is utilised and how important it is for a scientist to have a wide perspective.

2018 – 2020 – Curtin Student Guild. The Student Guild allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the system that creates our STEM leaders. By giving me insight into how tertiary STEM education is structured, as well as the challenges that it faces. This in turn allows me to anticipate, to an extent, the quality and characteristics of our future STEM leaders. Through this involvement I have also gained a greater understanding of social context, giving me invaluable that I can use as a scientist. It also empowered me to take a greater level of ownership and leadership, which will benefit me as a leader in the future and enabled me to improve my communication skills, empowering me to connect more deeply with society.

How did you get to your current job position and for how long have you occupied it?

Since December 2019, I have been the Faculty Representative for Science and Engineering at the Curtin Student Guild. I joined the Student Guild in 2018 as the First Year Representative for Science and Engineering and continuing in 2019 as an Ordinary Member of the Representative Board and the Finance and Risk Committee- all of which were volunteer positions. Throughout my time in the Guild, I learned a lot and built up a reputation of reliability, compassion, and proactivity that meant my nomination for this position was well-supported. After being successfully nominated, I was elected into the role unopposed.

What made you decide to choose your course?

I studied Actuarial Science for my first year at university, which I was drawn to because I was pretty good at math and I enjoyed it. After researching career options, I was quite excited about the idea of being a data analyst because being able to extract some valuable insights from data sounded pretty neat. Throughout the year, I felt that the economics, risk, and insurance components weren’t really that interesting, so I switched to my current degree of Advanced Science (Data Science major) in 2019.

How did you choose your particular study course?

I considered so many options from engineering to law to medicine, I considered everything! In year 12 I had a moment of revelation that I couldn’t really imagine what my life would be like without maths, so I figured it’d be a good idea for me to choose a degree with lots of math in it. After my career counsellor at school told me about Actuarial Science, I just went for it.

What was the process to get accepted into your course?

I followed an ATAR pathway to get into my course. Entering the course required an ATAR of 92 and ATAR Methods as a prerequisite. I completed ATAR Methods but I didn’t get the required ATAR to enter the course, but since I came from a school with low socioeconomic status, I was given a few extra points and was able to enter the course. Course-switching required a course weighted average of above 80 and ATAR Methods as a prerequisite, both of which I had so I was able to transfer in the Data Science stream of Advanced Science.

What does your study involve?

My study involves a lot of coding, statistics, and typing – a lot of time at the computer for sure. A typical day would be attending a lecture where I learn about the concepts behind the algorithms, models, and statistical methods that we use, as well as discussing the ethics associated with our work and current trends in the industry. This would be followed by a workshop or computer lab where I implement the new concepts that I’ve learned to consolidate my knowledge and further my understanding.

What characteristics or skills do you hope to gain by completing your course?

First and foremost, I want to learn how to code programs and use analytical techniques that allow me to extract the concealed insight that data has to offer. I want to also gain the characteristic of being able to delve deep into a problem to explore the underlying causes and context, rather than asking surface-level questions that are only token efforts to solving the problem at hand.

The second thing that I have a strong focus on is being able to communicate the data and the insights of the data in a way that makes the analysis I’ve conducted the most effective and accessible as possible. I am a strong believer that STEM is worthless unless it can be communicated to and understood by an audience that isn’t immersed in STEM as the scientist is, so I hope to build this skill through my course.

Will this course be beneficial in your career?

My motivation for studying this course is to become a data scientist, so I can definitely say that this degree will be beneficial for my career because it will provide me with the fundamental knowledge, skills, and characteristics needed to begin my professional career as a data scientist.

I think that a data scientist could go anywhere really. It’s an incredibly flexible field that requires a level of industry understanding, as all professions generally do. However, the unique thing about data science is that you are free to choose the industry you’d like to specialise in – whether that be the environmental sector, the defence sector, or something completely different – and the even more unique thing about data science is that a lot of your skills will be incredibly transferrable to an entirely different industry if you change your mind down the track.

What do you love the most about your course?

I definitely love the programming and technology aspect of my course. Technology is revolutionary, and the more deeply I learn about its various features, capabilities, and potential, the more I feel that I myself am ready to revolutionise the world.

What are the limitations of your course?

I would say a limitation of my course and most courses, in general, is that they can never truly prepare you for the professional environment you will find yourself in once you begin working in your field. They give you lots of opportunities to emulate things such as asking the important questions, working in a team and defining the problem and methodology for tackling a problem, however, the scale that you will experience in a professional setting will probably be quite different from the experience that university is able to emulate.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current undergraduate student?

  • The things you set out to do when you start your degree will most likely change – and that’s 100% ok! You often feel the pressure to graduate from your first degree within the minimum timeframe possible – I know I definitely did. But the reality is that even if it takes you a few more years to graduate because you changed your course a few times, or took a break, or decided to study part-time – you haven’t wasted any time. All these experiences are part of your growth and part of your life. Embrace it, enjoy it and make it worthwhile.
  • University is only what you make of it. If you want to have an academically powered student life – then you will need to study to make it happen. If you want to have a huge social life – you’re going to need to join some clubs and get to know people. It is completely up to you. That does mean you’re going to have to put effort in to get where you want to go, but it also means that you’re unlimited in the places you can go to.
  • Uni is your chance to mess up. I know that sounds a bit scary because it’s your first taste of the real world. You have access to a huge network of support to challenge yourself and learn at an exponential rate – and when you chase these things, you usually fail along the way, but this is one of the safest places to do that. The opportunity to improve yourself personally, professionally, academically and socially is unlimited. Be brave enough to fail.