Student Stories: Kat Correia

Kat CorreiaWhat program are you in? 

Biostatistics PhD 

Tell us about the path that brought you to our Department.

I never envisioned becoming a statistics major in college.  I took Introduction to Statistics to fulfill the math requirement, and the professor caught my attention when he talked about forensic cases he’d worked on as a statistician.  I loved watching Law & Order and was fascinated with the FBI, but I’m scared of the dark, terrified of guns, and I’m bad in emergencies, so let’s face it, I wouldn’t make a great agent.  Perhaps statistics was my way into that world!  That was the start to my path in statistics, but it didn’t take long before I wandered away from forensic applications (perhaps due to aforementioned fears!) to medical applications.  

After getting an MA in Biostatistics from Boston University, I worked at the infertility clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  I loved the research I did there, and I had an exceptionally supportive boss (Stacey Missmer, a professor in the Epidemiology department here) who encouraged me to return to school to pursue a PhD.  I had also met Paige Williams and Brent Coull through my work at BWH, and knew I would enjoy working with either of them if I could just get into the program.  Woo hoo – they accepted me and now I’m here! 

What do you like best about the Department, School, and/or Boston? 

I love the people!  My advisor Paige Williams is awesome – she serves as a great role model of a woman who wears many hats, not the least of which are mother, academician, and researcher.  I also appreciate how collaborative my fellow students are.  It’s a collective effort to succeed, and everyone helps each other out, whether it’s on course problem sets, career advice, or matters unrelated to school. 

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?  In 20 years?

Good question!  I can’t think that far ahead right now.  I have two young children (a son Felipe who will be 3 years old in March, and a daughter Olivia who is 3 months old), so I take things one semester at a time.  I’ve found it a blessing to have children while in school – I am way more relaxed regarding school-related stressors since I only have so much space in my brain to worry, and most of that space is allocated to worrying about my kids ☺.  But I also don’t procrastinate as much as I used to – I can’t wait until the day before something is due to get started on it, because luck would have it a child gets sick and then it doesn’t get done!  So, I start things early.  I go to class during the day, play in the evenings, and study at night.  It’s a wonderful mix of contemplating complex statistical problems and playing with playdough.

I’ve never seen myself teaching since I hate (hate!) public speaking, but one of my college professors recently reached out asking if I’d teach a course at Mount Holyoke last semester.  (I couldn’t because I was still in school, and about to have a baby in the middle of the semester!)  I loved my experience at Mount Holyoke.  Imagining myself teaching there (and a positive TA experience last summer) has shifted my mindset a little about teaching.  Maybe I’ll be back at my alma mater in 5 years! 

Is there something unusual about you that you’d like everyone to know?

During the summers of high school and college, I worked as an adaptive watersports instructor with an organization called AccesSportAmerica.  We’d strap plastic lawn chairs on adapted windsurfing boards, have outrigger canoe races, and surf the waves behind a motor boat.  I didn’t consider it a job really because it was so fun, but it also taught me to always look at people for what they can do and not what they can’t do. 

That, and my husband is from Brazil.  Tudo bem?  Tudo bom.