You might remember the classic 1970s ABBA song “Dancing Queen.” Perhaps a good nickname for Saint Leo University 2019 alumna Amanda Luce is “data queen.” Luce is grateful for how the BA in math program and her economics minor coursework have positively benefited her in her early career success in data and business analytics.
The 24-year-old was born in Tampa, FL and raised in Land O’Lakes. She now lives in nearby Odessa close to her two younger sisters, Emily and Audrey, and her parents, Amy and Irving. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, she adopted a lab mix, Havoc, from Pasco County Animal Services. She wants to be clear that his name does not accurately represent his personality.
A 2015 graduate of Land O’Lakes High School, she completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) program there.
“The IB program definitely prepared me very well for college,” Luce says. “I was able to earn several college credits while in high school as well.”
Discovering Saint Leo University
Luce recounts how she originally became aware of Saint Leo University as an option for her higher education.
“When I was in high school, we had career days where professionals would come in and speak about their jobs,” she recalls. “Dr. [Monika] Kiss came into our math class to talk about the math degree program at Saint Leo University. She explained all of the opportunities a math degree could provide to a student.”
During her senior year, Kiss invited Luce to sit in on some of the math classes at Saint Leo for a day. She also spent a night in a residence hall and enjoyed the connections she made through this college preview experience. The fact that the school was close to home, offered a “small campus feel,” and had a number of financial aid options all played into her decision to enroll as well. In fact, Luce was lucky enough to have her entire academic coursework fully covered.
Why the BA in Math Program Was a Plus in Her Mind
“Before I narrowed my decision down to the BA in math program, I took some business classes and realized how much I like economics. I think economics shows how lots of math principles can be applied in real-world situations. That perspective was interesting to me.”
She was also a member of the Honors Program.
An Abundance of Supportive Faculty
Kiss was among many faculty members throughout Luce’s time at Saint Leo who went above and beyond in her eyes.
“Dr. Kiss is very connected to her students and goes out of her way to help them outside of class as well,” she says. “She has given me advice on school, my career, and life in general.”
Dr. Lucia Farriss helped her land an internship as a research associate with the Tampa Bay Partnership. Dr. Barbara Caldwell also made a positive impression on her in her economics classes. Drs. Veronika Ospina-Kammerer, Jacquelyn White, Brian Camp, and Prof. Frank Orlando all contributed greatly to her education as well.
One of her memorable classes with Caldwell was on econometrics.
“This was one of my final classes in economics. It taught me how to apply math foundations in economics. I was able to take this experience into my senior capstone course.”
In that class, she conducted a data analysis on the opioid epidemic by researching the most effective opioid overdose prevention programs and using data to prove their effectiveness.
“President [Dr. Jeff] Senese even talked to me about this research. He suggested I work with the Campus Safety team and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office to coordinate an opioid takeback program. They were able to incorporate some of my research into the orientation program for new students on campus.”
Surrounded by Support
Luce lived on campus during most of her four years at the university. She is so happy she made the decision to do so because of the supportive environment.
“I liked that I knew people anywhere I went on campus,” she says. “From the library to the cafeteria, there were always people to sit with. Having those tightknit connections with both my professors and fellow students was huge. If I had gone to a bigger school, I would have gotten lost in the crowd.”
In addition, living in the heart of campus opened numerous doors for her. She worked as a math tutor in the Center for Academic Vision and Excellence (CAVE). She also served as a senator on the Student Government Union throughout her entire college career. Plus, she was the president and treasurer of the Math Club.
Thanks to another opportunity through her involvement, she volunteered with Restored Hope of Dade City, a nonprofit which partners with Metropolitan Ministries. She helped them with data entry and marketing to the local community.
A Valuable Adventure Across the Pond
Along with her varied roles on campus, Luce got the chance to study abroad in Ireland in the fall of 2018 as a senior. While there, she attended the National University of Ireland Galway.
“I studied Irish economics that aligned with my minor. I also took a general math course and an Irish literature course. Because of this immersion, I learned a lot of the Gaelic language.”
In addition to Ireland, she and some of her classmates took weekend trips to explore other European countries. Getting the chance to study in this region of the world meant so much to her.
“I made some great friends and was exposed to diverse cultures,” she says.
Notable Core Values
Two Saint Leo core values stood out to her as a student and continue to be ones she strives to achieve each day.
“In the workplace, I see a lot of focus on personal development and integrity. Being a continuous learner can help you in so many ways. You have to gain knowledge and skills over time to apply to your career in order to be successful. Maintaining integrity is also important to build the right level of trust in your expertise.”
Luce wrapped up her undergraduate degree in the spring of 2019.
Delving into a Data-Driven Career
Her Saint Leo degree and internship experience have helped her carve out a career in data and business analytics. Her current role is with Amgen, a leading biotechnology company. She started out as a training and development specialist. Following a promotion, she is now a business systems analyst.
“I started out supporting training programs and reporting. Now I use business systems to help improve processes and streamline delivery of data-driven insights to executives.”
She can attribute her early career success to many of the courses in her BA in math and economics programs at Saint Leo.
“The data analytics and real-world application of the concepts I learned have helped me get to where I am today. The Honors Program also helped me become more open-minded, look at things from different perspectives, and use critical thinking.”
Last fall, she decided to continue her education by pursuing an MBA in data analytics from the University of South Florida.
“Working in the corporate world, there are business principles I want to understand more deeply. This MBA program has helped expose me to a lot of these so that I can apply this knowledge to my current work.”
Phenomenal Parental Support
Luce wants everyone to know about how much her parents have meant to her throughout her life.
“They worked so hard to give me the best opportunities and education. Growing up, they were super supportive and wanted me to achieve all of my dreams. Neither of them graduated from college, so I’m proud to be a first-generation college graduate.”
Help Support a Scholarship for Math Majors
Because of the tremendously positive impact of her Saint Leo University experience, Luce is leading an effort to establish a scholarship for mathematics majors. To learn how you can support this initiative, please contact Saint Leo’s Office of Development at (352) 588-8450 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog article was provided by Amanda Luce and is used with permission.