Connor Woods was in high school when he first combined his two greatest interests: baseball and statistical analysis. At the time, college baseball had recently enacted a rules change stipulating the use of flat-seam baseballs instead of the raised-seam balls teams had previously played with.
“It was supposed to infuse more offense into the game,” explained Connor, “and I wanted to see if that’s really what happened.” The question became the topic of his senior thesis at Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston.
Although his results were inconclusive, Connor - a right-handed pitcher himself - was pleased with how his thesis turned out. The research project taught him how to gather and organize data, perform analysis, and draw conclusions from it.
But more than that, he learned that he wants his skills to impact more than just the baseball diamond. “I really want to impact people’s lives. To impact communities,” he explains.
That’s why we were stoked when he connected with us on - where else? - STEM Premier about a summer internship opportunity.
“I enjoy opportunities where I can see the results of my work. Working for a technology start-up was perfect. I really got to dive into the company, and they welcomed me like family.”
As an intern, Connor worked directly alongside our team assisting with various facets of our operations, from sitting in on engagement meetings to communicating directly with students in order to improve the user experience. He even did his own “senior thesis” project for us: performing a comprehensive analysis of our user base. He presented his findings to the entire company prior to returning to Claremont, California to begin his junior year at Pomona College.
“It was big confidence boost for me to take vast amounts of data and break it down into actionable conclusions,” he says.
It was a big confidence boost for us to. We were excited to hear what he had to say.
“I was amazed by the amount of female student users who are interested in STEM," he explains, "We hear so much about STEM areas being primarily dominated by males. The data from STEM Premier’s user base indicates that the tides might be shifting.”
He even delved into the nitty-gritty of our user base, drilling down into stats like profile completion rate and the number of scholarships a student applied for. From there, he identified a large population of students who are taking full advantage of the opportunities we have to offer.
“The amount of motivated first-generation students on STEM Premier is significant. It’s a population that colleges and companies would surely want to take note of.”
Although we were bummed that he had to return to school in August, we hope his time spent with us has a lasting influence on his professional aspirations. Working toward his degree in economics with minors in Spanish and mathematics, Connor - who is also a relief pitcher for Pomona College - plans to apply his skills in the non-profit or educational fields upon graduating.
While the professional aspect of his internship was rewarding, Connor says that he’ll always remember the life lessons he learned from our leaders.
“One thing [CEO] Casey Welch taught me was that - like members of a baseball team - everyone is going to have strengths and weaknesses. It’s how you combine the different strengths of different people that makes a great team.”
From all of us here at STEM Premier, thanks Connor!