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College of Arts and Sciences

  • Jackie Purtell and her mother wearing gamecock gear showing the hang loose sign.

    Graduate Spotlight

    Jacqueline “Jackie” Purtell (2022 B.S., Statistics)

Graduate Spotlight: Jacqueline Purtell

Statistics graduate Jackie Purtell knows it takes more than good luck to find the right path. When she found her direction, she got on track to a career as a Quantitative Analyst.

Where do you call home? What brought you to USC?

I’m from Clover, South Carolina. I was looking at schools all over the country when I was considering colleges, but I fell in love with the Gamecock spirit and the South Carolina Honors College. You can’t always make a small school feel big, but you can make a big school feel small. USC gave me so many new faces to meet, the city of Columbia to explore and SEC football – especially this year!

How did you decide to become a statistics major? Did you have a minor or cognate?

I originally came to USC as a biomedical engineering student, but I realized the field didn’t appeal to me aside from my interest in math. I started looking into other options and went to the Career Center to find my passion. A counselor helped me prioritize my skills and hobbies to find a prospective life path.

Switching to a Statistics major in the College of Arts and Sciences offered one of the best ways for me to combine my inclination toward numbers with my love of public speaking and communication. I added an advertising and public relations minor to solidify my soft skills.

What was your senior thesis about?

I conducted a study of USC students based around personality types. I researched the history and mentalities surrounding old and new personality tests, like the Myers Briggs personality types, then surveyed students to see if I could predict their career paths and personality traits based on their college experience. The cool thing about statistics is that you can analyze anything that interests you.

How did your instructors make you feel prepared in your field of study?

My thesis director and professor, Dr. Brian Habing, made me realize just how cool statistics is. There is a whole world of information categorization that seems like magic when you carry out the process. Dr. Habing made the magic easy to understand and truly engaging.

My academic advisor, Dr. David Hitchcock, is probably the best professor I have had. In my opinion, if you can make theoretical statistics fun and interesting, you deserve an award! The best part about Dr. Hitchcock is that he cares about his students beyond the classroom. He has connected me to alumni in my field, encouraged my research activities and is generally interested in my life. 

You also had a part in relaunching the Statistics Club. Tell me about that experience.

Dr. Hitchcock connected a few of us to bring the club back and encourage others to join. Five of us created roles and a club constitution, applied for official status with USC and got a page up on Garnet Gate. As president, I organized meetings with the help of my incredible cofounders.

Did you have any other experiences that stand out from your time at USC?

My freshman year I was an Orientation Leader, and it was one of my favorite jobs at USC. I have also been an Honors College Ambassador since my freshman year. It is the most rewarding thing I have done with the Honors College. In addition, I did research in the College of Information Science on vaccine mis/disinformation on social media and presented my preliminary work at both Discover USC and the Big Data Health Science Conference.

My internships have been what propelled me into the next phase of my life. I interned with the Better Business Bureau during my sophomore year and with Bank of America the summer after my junior year. I was working as a Quantitative Summer Analyst over the summer of 2022 and received a full time offer. In July 2023, I will return to Bank of America as a QMAP and begin my rotational program as a Quantitative Analyst.

How have you grown from being part of the diverse culture of people, ideas and disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences? 

The College of Arts and Sciences offers the chance to take classes across the gamut of knowledge. I walk out of a room of math and statistics students hard at work studying series and sequences into a room of women and gender studies majors discussing the ramifications of depicting infertility as a failure. Both of those classes changed the way I look at the world.

I have had the opportunity to expand my thinking and view of the world in a way that I was not necessarily expecting. I have taken plenty of statistics courses, but I have also taken film, English and science classes that opened my eyes to the way the world works and how we interact within it.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.