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Picture of alumnus Milica Spasojevic

We caught up with Milica Spasojevic who recently graduated from our department of Mathematical Sciences.

By: Milica Spasojevic  Class of: 2021 College: University College  Subject: Mathematics


What was your experience like studying Maths at Durham?

I chose to pursue Maths at Durham due to my love of problem-solving and logic. The supportive community of fellow students and faculty provided encouragement and support when faced with intricate problems. We were all in it together which fostered a sense of camaraderie and made the journey more fulfilling and enjoyable. 

Additionally, I was unaware of how many doors this degree will open for me. The rigour of mathematics honed my analytical skills and equipped me with a versatile toolkit applicable across industries. This has been invaluable in my professional journey, positioning me as a highly sought-after candidate in a competitive job market.

The journey was at times demanding, but the rewards have been truly remarkable, making every challenge along the way undeniably worthwhile. 

What did you enjoy most about your course?

I truly enjoyed the flexibility of the course and having the freedom to delve into a wide range of mathematics right from the outset. The opportunity to choose from the first year meant that I could truly shape my mathematical education according to my preferences. This allowed me to engage with both pure and applied mathematics, from number theory to quantum mechanics. 

My final year project stood out as the most rewarding part of my course. Here I studied statistical learning techniques, focusing on non-linear regression methods. I also got to apply and build models that predict children’s mathematics grades based on their socioeconomic circumstances. The dissertation component of my undergraduate degree was exceptionally gratifying and sparked my interest in using statistics for social good. 

What are your fondest memories from your time at Durham?

My fondest memory and the one that always brings a smile to my face is the matriculation ceremony. Stepping into the Castle's courtyard and being welcomed by the clatter of pots and pans was a remarkable start to a wonderful journey. The unique collegiate structure ensured that I felt at home right away, even as an international student. Having that instant sense of belonging was a pleasantly surprising aspect that set Durham apart.

What have you been up to since you left Durham?

After completing my studies, I started working as a Data Science Consultant I gained experience across diverse industries, eventually choosing to specialise in financial services. I have been working on a data migration project and where I gained an extensive understanding of Google Cloud Platform (GCP). A true highlight was designing and executing a technical demo for senior client stakeholders, showcasing the secure migration of 2+ million highly sensitive customer records to GCP.

Outside of client work, I will soon be presenting on Neural Radiance Fields (NeRFs) as a member of the Computer Vision expert group. Due to my continued upskilling and outstanding certifications performance, I was recognised as the top 20% of Data Scientists globally within the firm.

In my free time, I volunteer with Statistics Without Borders (SWB) to continue using my statistical knowledge for social good. This organisation operates on a global scale, but predominantly in developing nations with projects ranging from survey design to efforts to provide statistical software for developing nations. I would encourage everyone to get involved! 

What are your plans for the future?

In the upcoming years, my focus remains dedicated to evolving as a data scientist in both industry and through pro bono engagements. I am looking forward to focusing on model explainability and interpretability to drive effective decision-making.

My long-term vision encompasses a return to academia, where I hope to complete a postgraduate degree in mathematics. I am intrigued by the utilisation of AI as a tool for social good and keen to contribute to developments that will be applicable across industries. 

What would be your top advice for current students and/or prospective students?

  1. Get to know your peers, it is much easier to solve problems together and collaborate.
  2. At the beginning of each term experiment with different modules and keep an open mind.
  3. Get involved. Join societies and clubs, as attending university is about much more than just your degree.
  4. Some people will appear to breeze through problem sheets, but almost everyone is learning by getting stuck, and that is how you are "supposed" to do it.