From faculty to leadership development: QME alum finds rewarding career path

Elizabeth Fry, PhD

Elizabeth Fry, PhD, alumni of the Department of Educational Psychology’s quantitative methods in education (QME) program, did not enjoy the first statistics class she took in college.

Fry double majored in math and French as an undergraduate student at Valparaiso University. While her introductory statistics class did not leave her wanting to learn more, the second statistics class that she took during her senior year sparked her immediate interest in the subject. Following graduation, she took a year off to volunteer with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Chicago before attending The Ohio State University (OSU) to obtain a master’s degree in statistics. 

“I began working as a teaching assistant and attended my first U.S. Conference on Teaching Statistics, which was held on OSU’s campus. I discovered the discipline of statistics education, and became interested in not only teaching statistics, but also research to inform the teaching and learning of statistics.”

An OSU professor introduced Fry to the University of Minnesota’s unique statistics education area of emphasis, and she was hooked. QME was the only PhD program she applied to.

Looking back on her experience in QME, Fry most appreciated the people and its welcoming and communal culture.

“I really enjoyed interacting with other students and faculty, both inside and outside of the classroom.” 

After graduation, Fry worked as a lecturer in the QME program and later became a tenure-track assistant professor of statistics and data science at St. Catherine University. Today, she works as an evaluation associate at the Center for Creative Leadership

Even though her new role is a different path than she originally envisioned for herself, Fry says she often applies what she learned in her PhD program to her work today.

“I now work in program evaluation for leadership development programs, focusing on evaluating programs in higher education. It’s an excellent fit for my interests in data visualization and statistics, and I can help to make a more direct impact on leadership in higher education.”

Fry advises prospective students to take advantage of as many opportunities as they can reasonably handle to explore their research and career passions.

“Now is a good time to take advantage of opportunities to explore different interests, and also realize that it’s okay if those interests change along the way! It’s never too late to change paths.”