Conan Minihan


Major: Data Science

Graduation year: 2023

Growing up, Conan faced many challenges -- from being a foster child to eventually serving five years in prison. He never dreamed college would be an option for his future. Yet today, he has become a first-generation college student as a Data Science major at UC Berkeley. Conan grew up in Southern California. He graduated high school from Murrieta Valley Adult School and transferred to UC Berkeley from San Diego City College. It was there he found the MESA program where he learned essential study skills and received math tutoring from the City College Math Center that helped him to be admitted into Cal. 

Question: How did you first get interested in data science?

Answer: I first heard about data science when I was reading Wired magazine in prison. Since we did not have access to the internet and little exposure to the outside world I would read newspapers and magazines to try to get an idea of what was going on in the world and plan what I would do upon release. I understood Data Science was a next-level, burgeoning field and I wanted to be part of it.

Q: How are you participating in the Data Scholars Pathways program? What has been your experience/impact of the program?

A: In the Data Scholars Pathways Program, I presented an exploration project of the many resources available to STEM and Data Science majors at Cal. I hope to share an expanded version of this with incoming Data Scholars. Also, I made a project using national data on COVID infections and deaths per day to track what happened in my home county. 

Q: How do you envision using data science in the future?

A: In 2020, a terrible heartbreaking event occurred, my friend who was also a student was shot between the eyes with a bean bag by law enforcement while protesting. They were protesting the harassment of a young Black man in my community by law enforcement near the same time as the tragedy that befell George Floyd. The agency refused to release the video footage, and when they did it was edited. Often, as in this case, the data we need to hold our institutions accountable is collected only by those same entities. This is a conflict of interest. I hope to provide a solution by developing a community-based data infrastructure to collect data on local law enforcement. That way we do not have to wait months for them to release information that has been edited and they can be held accountable like everyone else when they hurt the community.

Q: What are your future career goals?

A: I am very interested in a Data Science career in the medical industry for personalized and predictive medicine. I am especially interested in continuing my work using medical devices to collect continuous blood pressure data to predict cardiovascular events in patients. I am also interested in using these devices for fitness and athletic purposes. 

Q: Any advice for students curious about data science?

A: If you take Data 8, find a good solid study buddy. During these bizarre times of remote learning, you can find the best study partners by hitting up the people who turn their cameras on during class. They are motivated and reliable. Shout out to Paul Fentress!