A Whole New Ball Game: Alumna Scores Job as Data Scientist for Philadelphia 76ers
NJIT alumni continue to prove that when armed with a degree from one of the nation’s leading public high-tech universities, trails are blazed and professional dreams really do come true.
Just ask alumna Ivana Seric ’17, who was able to turn her love of sports, math and science into a dream job with the NBA.
“I’ve played basketball since I was 7-years-old,” said Seric, who was born in Split, Croatia. At 12 years old, she became captivated by the fanfare and excitement of collegiate sports while watching her first American college basketball game.
“I was fascinated by how many people came and watched women’s basketball,” she said. “From that day on, it was my dream to play college basketball in the U.S.”
Seric’s dream came true in 2007 when she secured a basketball scholarship from NJIT.
When the 6-foot-2-inch forward wasn’t ruling the court — Seric holds two NJIT Division I school records for most rebounds (15) and blocks (5) in a game — she kept her head in the books crunching numbers as a math major.
“I chose mathematics because it’s always been my favorite subject in school,” she said. In fact, Seric loves math so much, after earning a B.S. in applied mathematics, she continued her studies at NJIT, earning a Ph.D. in mathematical sciences, with a concentration in computational fluid dynamics.
While completing her Ph.D. she discovered the NBA was in search of trained data scientists to analyze and leverage captured statistics.
Data scientist has been named the no. 1 most popular job in America for three years running. And to help meet the growing demand of analytics professionals from companies like Google, Instagram and Verizon, NJIT recently launched an M.S. degree in the burgeoning field.
Today, as a data scientist in the basketball operations division of the legendary Philadelphia 76ers, Seric works on a team with 10 mathematicians and computer scientists who use data provided by the NBA to uncover insights and provide scalable analytical solutions to assist players and coaches increase their chances of winning games.
“This is perfect,” said Seric of her exciting career. “There’s math, there’s basketball; it’s a dream job for me.”