A Conversation with Minerva Graduate Student Sabrina

Mar 25, 2021

This is part of a series of profiles introducing Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis (MDA) students from the Class of 2023. If you would like to learn more about the MDA program, please visit minerva.edu/graduate-programs.

After completing a Bachelor of Law and a Master’s degree in English Studies at The University of Hong Kong, Sabrina Cheng joined Teach for Hong Kong as a Fellow. While she originally planned to become a lawyer, after joining the English Debate Team and learning about international politics and finance, Sabrina realized that she was more passionate about improving education policy. So after graduation, she turned down a prestigious job offer and, instead, accepted a brand new challenge — helping underprivileged students learn.

At first, Sabrina’s classroom experience was eye-opening. “I still remember how so many students could not fluently read the alphabet from A to Z, which surprised me so much. I had never thought that, in Hong Kong, there exists a gap in education between different groups of students,” she shares. “[But] working closely with those children, I could see how passionate they were about learning new things, even though their opportunities were limited. It was because of those experiences with students, that I decided to change my career path to focus on education and public policy to reduce the inequalities in opportunities for students.”

During her time with Teach for Hong Kong, Sabrina also met an undergraduate Minerva student who was working as a Marketing Manager in the same program. Sabrina learned about Minerva’s learning technology and pedagogical focus on practical education but was particularly interested in the master’s program as she struggled to understand quantitative data in her past job as a research assistant at the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute.

“[Data] was not my expertise in college. Those new concepts, like p-values and correlation, were very difficult for me to understand and interpret in a meaningful way,” she relates. In an attempt to improve, Sabrina looked up online data analysis courses at Coursera and Udemy but found the classes were too specific to be useful in any adjacent field or career. “For example, there was a course about using data science in medical health, [but] I am not interested in pursuing [that field] in the future.”

In contrast, Sabrina appreciated how Minerva focused on teaching the frameworks, tools, and techniques of data analysis that would allow students to apply data science concepts to any career field. She also was drawn to the remote aspect of the program, as after completing her Teach for Hong Kong position, she accepted a dream job on the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) public policy consulting team in Hong Kong.

In addition to working at PwC, Sabrina is looking forward to meeting her students from all over the world this fall, where she can see how they each bring different perspectives when approaching challenges.

“I love learning new things and I believe that the world is changing because of education. And I am happy to be part of this transformation.”