Graduation Profile: Biostatistics Leads MPH Student to Discover New Career  

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Master of Public Health Student Colin Tran discovered coding and his love of helping people through data after taking the required Biostatistics course 

Colin Tran, MPH
Colin Tran, MPH '22. Photo provided.

Colin Tran has considered many professions—dentist, biochemist, and epidemiologist—and he thanks Biostatistics for helping him find his future career path with public health data. Tran is graduating this month with a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Epidemiology and wants to use his skills to support others. 

“For the longest time, I wanted to be a dentist. That went away, but my desire to help as many people as possible remained the same,” Tran said. 

He received a biochemistry degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and though he enjoyed his classes, he found that the related career options weren’t appealing to him. Struggling with what path to take, Tran applied for and was accepted as a National Institutes of Health Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Fellow. This led him to public health. 

“I was initially set on infectious diseases. Mason’s first-year classes helped me get my foot in the door with public health. When I took the Biostatistics course, it got me interested in coding. I found it is where my aspirations in epidemiology and analyzing data overlapped,” he said. 

Biostatics fascinated him so much that he has been a teaching assistant for the past three semesters for Assistant Professor Jenna Krall

"It’s a lot different than I expected, in a good way. I didn’t expect to develop so many skills as a teaching assistant,” said Tran. In addition to traditional assignments such as grading and he has created a resource for biostats students who have not taken a recent math course, learned new coding languages, and expanded his skills as a data analyst. 

He took these skills to his practicum, where he analyzed various data sets at the Fairfax County Health Department. He’s still finalizing his post-graduation plans and hopes to continue working at a health department.  

Tran is headed on a different career path than he imagined when he started at Mason, but he’s thrilled with where his experience has led him and recommends the programs to prospective students. 

“Whatever you thought you knew about public health, you’ll find out a lot more,” said Tran. “It’s been very rewarding to be exposed to all these other aspects of public health that I didn’t know existed before. I’ve always enjoyed learning so being able to find new things was really exciting for me. If you’re interested in community health, global, or  infectious diseases, coming to Mason you’ll be exposed to just that.”