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The latest news from Northern Marianas College

Paulaine Sasamoto, a first-year nursing student at the Northern Marianas College, recently completed the one-month 2021 Virtual Summer Data Science Institute through Chaminade University’s Supporting Pacific Indigenous Computing Excellence (SPICE) Grant.

“The whole journey has been great,” Sasamoto said. “Obviously, there were times where I doubted myself on whether I was able to find sufficient datasets that fit into my project bid and confusion on what went wrong in my R studios code. However, it helps to have a welcoming environment of faculty members and mentors offering their help outside of the program work hours.” 

Sasamoto’s project while in the program was to investigate if there’s an association between urbanization and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

Held from May 24 to June 18, 2021, the Virtual Summer Data Science Institute is a data science research immersion program for students and working professionals, focused upon building data science capacity in Hawai'i and the Pacific region.

The program is funded by the National Science Foundation, the NSF Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the Texas Advanced Computing Center and is hosted by Chaminade University. The program provides a data science research-based experience where participants can examine a data set of their choice with the assistance and training from world-class experts in the fields of statistics, analytics, visualization and decision support.

Sasamoto’s advisor, NMC Nursing Department Chair Rosa Aldan, said that this is the first time that an NMC Nursing Student was selected to participate in a data science research-based training opportunity and she is very proud of her to be amongst other college students from the Pacific region and the U.S. mainland.

“We were very excited to hear that she was accepted into the program last May,” Aldan said. “I am extremely proud of her work and for going through such a rigorous training program.”

Sasamoto said that completing the program wasn’t as hard due to the support she received from her mentors and instructors. 

“I would like to thank Mr. Johnny Tudela Aldan for providing additional resources on how to operate [the coding software] R, helping me finalize my project bid and providing feedback on what direction I should go with my project,” Sasamoto said. 

She also thanked her mentor Krystin Vanic and SPICE program faculty member Dr. Laura Tipton.

Sasamoto encourages everyone to participate in an internship program should they get the chance to. 

“For anyone wondering if they should consider applying for an internship or program but think they aren’t properly suited for it, give it a shot and believe in yourself because you can surprise yourself,” Sasamoto said.