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Student success story: Rackelle Wilkinson-Alston

by | Mar 30, 2022

Rackelle Wilkinson-Alston is a Nurse Case Manager Sr. Analyst at Cigna, one of the premier insurance companies in the United States. She surveys healthcare data to uncover gaps in care, ultimately reducing the cost of healthcare for individuals with chronic conditions. But before she started her career in data analytics, she took the NYU Tableau Data Analytics Certificate Program powered by Pathstream

She was previously a clinical nurse working directly with patients, collaborating with hospital staff, and working on case management. But, Rackelle knew the power data had to improve healthcare and wanted to be at the forefront of technology as a data analyst. 

Healthcare is data-driven, but the nursing curriculum is not yet there. I wanted to add critical data analysis skills to my toolbox. I enrolled in the program to build up marketable skills and transition to a career that merged data analytics and nursing. Now I extract powerful insights that influence business decisions and improve patient care.”

She wanted to invest in an education that would help her build a strong theoretical foundation and master data analysis skills. Before enrolling in the NYU Tableau Data Analytics Certificate Program, Rackelle completed a SQL course online. The course taught her a lot but was very advanced. She began to research different data analytics programs but found most programs offered by universities costly.

“Then I found Pathstream. The curriculum and content covered were the same, but the price was lower. Why turn down an opportunity to get the same value but at a better cost? I enrolled to learn data analytics, be taught by an experienced instructor from a prestigious university, and get a certificate of completion.” 

Rackelle found the program to be equal parts challenging and extremely rewarding.

“To be a successful analyst, you have to commit to learning. I went to grad school and knew I had to put in the work to learn, so I invested about 12 to 18 hours a week. It wasn’t overwhelming. The program is self-paced; you can seek assistance from your instructor and collaborate with classmates. There is a level of accountability to turn in assignments that keeps you on schedule.”

 

During our discussion, Rackelle highlighted that Pathstream’s program provided immense support and that she applied many of the skills she learned immediately upon graduating. Rackelle communicated with her instructor openly throughout the program and felt comfortable asking questions.

“My instructor had a wealth of knowledge. As deadlines approached, he often reached out to keep track of our progress or offer an extension. He was attentive; when students were stuck, he would host sessions to break down information. He also gave great feedback on assignments. If your data needed to be cleaned up more, he would walk you through it or show you different approaches to a problem. I learned to appreciate data analysts professionally because of my instructor’s approach.”

The Tableau Data Analytics program is structured to work through a curriculum using hands-on projects that mirror the ones you will have on the job.

“The labs are great. You go from knowing little about data analytics to reading and learning foundational concepts and then building up your skills to complete the assignment. If you have trouble with an assignment, you can troubleshoot it with your class or instructor. After brainstorming with classmates, I was able to resolve an error message I kept getting on a piece of code I used. This level of collaboration and built-in support helps you commit to learning the information and applying your skills.”

 Presenting has become an integral part of Rackelle’s role. She credits the program with teaching her to translate data into actionable insights through presentations.

“When I started this role, the medical director reached out requesting a presentation for the marketing department. I had to present a patient case study that included demographics, health issues, and possible interventions to improve the patient’s health. I knew how to do this because many of my assignments required me to present snapshots of the information I found or patterns I uncovered. I was able to take data and show that we were meeting the company’s business goals through the work we did in our department. It impressed the director, and now I am the go-to presenter.”

Rackelle also emphasized that the program set her up for success. However, she is extremely humble. Every day Rackelle empowers patients with information that helps them make better medical decisions, lower their costs, reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, and access better care. She streamlines the process for patients. The program taught her the skills she needed to land a job in data analytics. Her determination and drive helped her achieve her goals, make a positive impact in healthcare, and build a successful career as a senior data analyst.

Her final advice to future and current students, especially those on the front line:

“If you feel like you need to shift careers, ask yourself, where do you want to be? What level do you need to be on to get there? You don’t need to be on the front line to work in healthcare or any industry. Allow yourself the opportunity to gain digital skills that can advance you to higher levels in your career. Pathstream provides the pathway forward, and it was the path I chose and would recommend.”  

Ready to start a career in data analytics?

Does Rackelle’s story inspire you to pursue a career as a data analyst? If yes, the first step in starting your career in data analytics is learning the requisite analytical skills required for any data analyst position. In addition to traditional educational pathways, many professionals take certification programs in specific data analytics tools like SQL or Tableau to make them more competitive applicants for jobs.

In the Pathstream Tableau Data Analytics Certificate program, you will learn to understand, visualize, and analyze raw data sets. This 27-week certificate program is 100% online and built for busy professionals who want a personalized yet flexible approach to career development. 

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