Alumnus Highlight – Duy Pham

Meet Duy, an alumnus from the Class of 2020 | Nov 24, 2022

Quick Facts

Name:

Duy Pham

Country:

Vietnam

Class:

2020

Majors:

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Conversation

Can you describe the work you are doing now?

Since graduation, I have been living in San Francisco and working at the SPHERE Institute, a nonprofit organization. The team I am working with helps the government improve the efficiency of the Medicare system. My work is similar to what I learned in one of my Computational Sciences classes at Minerva involving A/B testing. Different from the A/B testing for a startup which might last a few months, this government's testing lasts six years. In the project, I monitor the calculation and perform investigations as needed to make sure healthcare providers receive the expected amount of money for each patient, even before the treatment is serviced. This lump-sum payment prior to the treatment would ideally improve the healthcare provider’s efficiency, which is the goal of this initiative.

What are some learnings from your Minerva classes that you find yourself applying to your life or work now?

The journey to land my current job was adventurous. It all started with a first-year Multimodal Communications location-based assignment. The goal of that assignment was to talk to an organization with different opinions from mine. So I went to the church and finished the assignment. A few months later, I visited the church again and that is when I met some people who invited me to join their Bible study every other Thursday, where I made new friends. After traveling around the world with my Minerva cohort for three years, I came back to the city in my final year and one of my friends from the Bible study referred me to the people I work with now.

Can you talk me through your Capstone project?

My Capstone project focuses on finding the correlations or connections between Bitcoin prices and political uncertainty. I used two indexes—one tracked the price of Bitcoin and the other tracked political uncertainty—to see if Bitcoin can be used to hedge against political uncertainties. While I could not find a clear-cut correlation or hedging ability of Bitcoin, I could see some positive correlation between gold and Bitcoin. That Capstone was done in early 2020, a year before the peak of the 2021 cryptocurrency movement. Things could have changed now, with the popularity of cryptocurrency being significantly different compared to the time of my writing.

What skills acquired during the Capstone project development are supporting your work now?

Reading different kinds of research papers while completing my Capstone project and deciding on the formula that I needed to use helped me develop my decision-making ability which is a big part of what I am doing now professionally. I have to come up with creative solutions that can meet our KPIs but overcome the constraints of the scope of work. Working on a Capstone project at the intersection between social science and computational science helped me develop a level of knowledge in both disciplines and learn how we might combine them, which is what I am doing in my company right now.

If you were inspired by Duy's story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.