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Third-Generation Alumna Pursues Career Goals While Serving Community

May 7, 2020

Earning a degree in statistics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is a tradition in Kara White’s family. White, of Kingsport, is a newly minted alumna of the Department of Business Analytics and Statistics in the Haslam College of Business, and part of a three-generation legacy.

“Both my grandfather and father have degrees in statistics from UT,” White says. “Also, my brother is a soon-to-be sophomore majoring in statistics.”

While her father and grandfather went to work for Eastman Chemical Company, White’s career path lies along a different trajectory. She plans to relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina, where she will join UnitedHealth Group as a data scientist in their Early Careers program. She hopes to pursue her passion for complex problem-solving while promoting a more egalitarian workplace.

“I love being part of the healthcare industry, as the medical field and healthcare systems are some of the areas that affect our lives most deeply,” White says. “I’m excited to be in a field that has a large opportunity to fight for inclusivity within data-driven decision making, and I’m inspired by trying to find solutions within this space that improve diversity, equality and others’ well-being.”

While White garnered her share of academic-related achievements at UT, such as being a member of the Smith Global Leadership Scholars program, president of the Business Analytics Society, and finishing as a finalist with her team in the Champion Analytics Case Competition at Elon University in 2020, she also spent considerable time volunteering with a national nonprofit. She started a chapter of the Girls Who Code club at Emerald Academy in Knoxville. White calls it one of her most rewarding experiences.

“The past two years I have operated this club along with my peers to encourage and support third- to fifth-grade girls in STEM,” she says. “We meet once a week to do activities together. Some of my favorites have been creating bracelets using binary code for the bead colors, researching important women tech pioneers and programming our class robot to dance.”

White’s academic accomplishments and her concern for others have not gone unnoticed in her department.

"Kara is an exceptional student," Julie Ferrara, assistant department head of business analytics and statistics, said. "She cares about being a good representative of the university, which makes us proud. Kara also is such a caring person that you can't help but be happy when you’re around her. She will go on to great achievements after graduation."

White is appreciative of what the program offered her.

"Business analytics gave me an education focused on end-to-end analytics,” she says. "It is special that the program cultivates technical skills, like programming, and softer skills, like communicating results to stakeholders. Haslam has given me a valuable network of peers that I constantly learn from and admire. I’ve made some of my best friends through classes and programs there."

CONTACT: Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist (rmcnutt4@utk.edu)