Meet Gracia O’Donnell, Class of 2023! Gracia graduated in May 2023 with a B.A. in Economics and a double minor in Data Analytics and Political Science. Gracia embarked on a transformative journey during her time at Chapman, discovering her passion for data science and building a strong network of friends and mentors. In this blog post, we’ll explore Gracia’s Chapman experience, her current role with the Los Angeles Rams, and the valuable lessons she learned along the way.
Gracia’s Chapman Experience
At first, Gracia was apprehensive about moving from a small town in Colorado to Orange County for college. However, choosing Chapman proved to be one of the best decisions she ever made. Initially lacking confidence in STEM skills, Gracia’s perception changed as she took her required STEM courses and discovered her passion for data science. The supportive and enjoyable learning environment at Chapman allowed her to transform from an insecure student into a confident professional.
Beyond academics, Gracia emphasizes the importance of the friends she made at Chapman, describing them as her second family. The Chapman community provided her with a supportive and fun-loving environment that became her “happy place” throughout her college years. Outside the classroom, Gracia was actively involved in her sorority, Delta Gamma, where she served as the Vice President of Finance. This involvement pushed her out of her comfort zone and significantly boosted her confidence, particularly in public speaking. Moreover, the connections she made within her sorority have been crucial to her personal and professional success.
Favorite Classes & Professors
Gracia highlights the positive impact of several professors at Chapman. Professor Jon Humphreys, through his support both professionally and personally, played a pivotal role in her life. Likewise, Doug Aiken, with his Sports Journalism class, helped improve her writing skills and provided essential encouragement as she entered the sports industry. Gracia also commends the influence of her female professors, such as Dr. Kendra Day and Yvette Jolly, who served as strong role models throughout her time at Chapman. “These women showed me what it meant to be a strong woman in your career, and having positive female role models throughout my four years at Chapman really helped me be comfortable as a woman with aspirations in both sports and STEM,” she says.
When asked what her favorite classes were, Gracia said “Intro to Business Analytics with Dr. Brett Danaher holds a special place in my heart as it was the first time I realized that I loved data analytics.” Additionally, she enjoyed the Social and Ethical Issues in Computing class with Dr. Kendra Day and the Business Law class with Yvette Jolly, as both professors were inspirational and made the material engaging and enjoyable.
Gracia’s Early Career Experience
Gracia is currently an Analyst in Strategy and Analytics for the Los Angeles Rams. Her role involves leveraging data within the organization through statistical, mathematical, and visual analysis to improve efficiency. A sports fan at heart, Gracia’s journey into the sports industry began during her internship with the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The experience solidified her passion for sports analytics, and she successfully landed her first job post-grad with the Rams.
Gracia credits Chapman University’s liberal arts education for preparing her for her post-graduate career. The ability to take classes from various disciplines provided her with a diverse skill set that is invaluable in her current role. Additionally, the willingness of professors, particularly those from the Argyros School, to offer advice and guidance was instrumental in helping her shape her career direction.
Gracia’s advice is to “Put yourself out there and get used to rejection!!! You’re going to get rejected, probably a lot, and it’s important to know that that is okay and not let yourself get discouraged.” Additionally, she urges students and recent alumni to surround themselves with supportive friends who believe in their potential and can be a significant asset, fostering personal and professional growth.
Gracia O’Donnell’s Chapman experience is a testament to the transformative power of higher education. By embracing new opportunities and taking on challenges, she discovered her passion for data science and achieved her dream role in sports analytics. Chapman University’s supportive environment and diverse education provided her with the tools to excel in her post-graduate career. Gracia’s journey serves as an inspiring example for students and recent graduates seeking to find their own path to success.