MS in Business Analytics Student of the Year says hard work, motivation, and organization are key to success


Katie Kacher, the 2023-24 master’s in business analytics Student of the Year is proof that hard work, motivation, and organization are the key ingredients to success in graduate business school. After earning her bachelor’s in commerce from the University of Virginia, Kacher chose the Donald G. Costello College of Business at George Mason University for her graduate degree, primarily due to George Mason’s reputation for high caliber coursework and student outcomes. A Northern Virginia resident, Kacher notes that the proximity to campus and the in-state tuition rates were also factors in her decision to be a part of the inaugural class of the master’s in business analytics program.    

Katie Kacher
Katie Kacher

Completing the program in just a year, Kacher has thoroughly enjoyed building her skillset learning multiple programming languages, data visualization tools, and the newest trends in big data. She particularly enjoyed her data mining course with Professor Jean-Pierre Auffret. Kacher says she was impressed with Auffret’s ability to tie in thought-provoking contemporary case studies to class, which called for a good mix of both learning a technical skill and tying it to conceptual real-world elements.

Auffret acknowledged that Kacher’s great interest in learning led to her success in data mining. “Katie is very diligent in mastering complex topics. She made excellent contributions to class discussions with an interest in current issues related to current AI-related issues of trustworthy AI, polices and legislation for AI, and societal considerations for generative AI, such as ChatGPT,” said Auffret. “Katie and her team did a fantastic class project on factors related to U.S. housing affordability.” 

Kacher credits her successes as a student to not only the great teachers in the masters of business analytics program, but also to her motivation and dedication to succeeding. “I spend about three hours a week outside of class per course working on classroom-related work,” says Kacher. “I also have a good work-life balance and feel like my organizational skills have helped me stay focused on what’s important.”

Aside from being an exemplary student, Kacher also works as a financial data analyst at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. “This job allows me to use the technical skills I’ve learned and apply them in a way that makes a difference to people in the world,” says Kacher.  

She believes that being organized and intentional in dedicating time to both her schoolwork and career has allowed her to balance starting a new position and a new program simultaneously. For tips on how to balance both schoolwork and career, students may meet with Costello College's Office of Career Services. Kacher met with the Office of Career Services team in the fall to discuss her career pathway and satisfaction. “While career services did not directly get me my job, I would recommend students who are unsure of their career path meet with them to start the conversation,” says Kacher. 

Kaleb Lewis, director of career services, agrees. “Meeting with a career advisor early in a graduate program encourages students to think strategically about their long-term career plans. By setting clear goals and milestones, students can stay proactive in pursuing opportunities that align with their aspirations while taking classes,” says Lewis. “The Costello College of Business Office of Career Services can help students identify and leverage transformative career resources effectively, maximizing the student’s potential for success both during and after their degree program. Career advisors provide guidance on professional development strategies, including resume building and networking skills. Our office is here to help build a solid foundation for students’ future career endeavors.” 

As for advice for students looking to join the MS in business analytics program, Kacher encourages people to go for their dreams. “If it is something you really want, you can find a way to do it. If you are motivated, anything is possible.”