Disparate double major
Scholarship recipient Emily Truong is pursuing degrees in both dance and data science
Emily Truong is not one to give up on her passions. She has been dancing since she was 6 years old and, though she knew she wanted a career in healthcare, which would require intensive study and focus, didn’t want to abandon the joyful activity during college. Now, as a double major in dance and data science (with an eye toward biomedical data analysis), Truong pursues both of her passions at UCI.
“Being a dancer and having seen injuries around me really inspired my interest in healthcare,” says the Los Angeles native.
Originally planning to become a physician, Truong entered UCI as a dance and biological sciences major. But after taking data science courses in her first year, she changed her second major to data science, with a minor in bioinformatics.
“I like the idea that with data science, you can impact people’s lives at a larger scale,” says Truong, who’s in the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences’ honors program. “The work physicians do is really great because they’re able to directly impact their patients every day. But with data science, you’re not seen by the patients, but you’re impacting them behind the lines. And you can do that for a lot of patients at the same time.”
A senior, Truong has found many opportunities to apply her technical data skills to student life in her time at UCI so far. As the director of recruitment for her sorority, Tri Delta, in her first and second years, Truong used the programming language Python to code an application helping track Zoom meeting attendance during the pandemic.
Since her sophomore year, she has also been part of the lab of Kai Zheng, professor of informatics, where she assists researchers with data collected from health records. Truong is currently a student manager there and continues to work with data on her own. Last summer, she served a data analytics internship with Kaiser Permanente.
Last summer, Truong received the 2022-23 Billy Steckler Endowed Scholarship, an undergraduate award for ICS students. “I aspire to complete a master’s degree or Ph.D. in data science, so this scholarship will go a long way in helping me take that journey,” she says. “For my undergraduate honors thesis, I’m working on a research project that utilizes electronic health records. I look forward to that and finishing my bachelor’s degree, and this scholarship will help me focus on those challenges ahead.”
Yet amid all her data science work, Truong manages to find time for dancing.
“It’s a lot of coursework to complete both the dance and data science majors, but it’s really nice to sometimes take that break from using the STEM part of my brain and use the dance part instead,” she says. “Dance coursework is very physical and mostly done within the classroom, so it’s definitely a different skill set, but it’s no less rewarding.”
Outside her classes, Truong also dances with Project Renegade, a UCI-based crew. Though she doesn’t plan to perform professionally after graduating in winter 2024, she intends to keep dancing for her own personal growth.
“It’s kind of hard to dance at a data science job,” Truong says, “but I know I still don’t want to give up that part of my life.”
If you want to learn more about supporting this or other activities at UCI, please visit the Brilliant Future website. By engaging 75,000 alumni and garnering $2 billion in philanthropic investment, UCI seeks to reach new heights of excellence in student success, health and wellness, research and more. The Claire Trevor School of the Arts and the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences play vital roles in the success of the campaign. Learn more by visiting https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/claire-trevor-school-of-the-arts and https://brilliantfuture.uci.edu/donald-bren-school-of-ics.