A  Data Analyst Using Quality Improvement to Make an Impact on People's Lives


A Career Path Out of the Limelight – Yet Making a Difference

Sometimes when people hear the words "community service," they may think only of direct service. Kelsie Cox, a program evaluator, impacts the community by utilizing a different skillset. Kelsie has found a career that allows her to still create change – while not being on the front lines – something that suits her personality. Bonner gave Kelsie an early start in exposing her different sectors of service (like the environment, hunger and homelessness). This exposure led to where she is now. 

Bonner and Beyond 

Kelsie went to Rhodes College and majored in Political Science and Government. She earned her Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) in Community Development and Action from Vanderbilt University. She now works as a Program Evaluator for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Along her journey to her current position, Kelsie discovered her sweet spot and a role in helping others. 

“It's nice to be doing the stuff that is not out there everyday. It depends on your personality type. I like the little things, detail oriented things. I enjoy data analysis and stuff that a lot of people would probably think is really boring. I like to see continuous quality improvement and to find ways to visualize data in a way that will really make an impact on people who are not necessarily interested in data. For example, how to show them things so they get it really easily. This makes a huge impact.”


Understanding How You Can Impact The World 

A recurring theme in Kelsie's story is that there is a career for everyone. She discovered her passions from being in Bonner, and later translated those passions into a position that fit her personality, skillset, and interests. 

When asked about what in particular clicked for Kelsie on her journey to Program Evaluator, she replied, "Program evaluation is very broad and can be used for a lot of different things depending on what programs need and what they are doing. It's looking at data, figuring out how to develop plans for data collection and data analysis. You could also help write grants, or any reports that are due. It's continuous quality improvement using a lot of different databases.”

In Kelsie’s case, understanding herself and finding program evaluation created a space where Kelsie could cultivate the passion she has for helping others. Kelsie reminds current students of this important lesson she learned in her journey to Program Evaluation. 

"Don’t sell yourself short. If you have the experience and think you can sell yourself for that job, go for it. Don’t stress out if you are job searching or really need a job. Go for what you want, something you are passionate about, and think you would enjoy doing."     

Next Steps


Kelsie loves evaluation and social sciences research. She intends to stay in the field and may solely work in evaluation or find ways to combine it with these interests. She is not sure because she likes both a lot. In a couple of years, Kelsie aspires to pursue a Ph.D in public health or prevention science. Graduate studies will enable her to gain more skills in the area, so she can continue to make her impact on the community in her own unique way.

To learn more about Kelsie, check out her two amazing cats:


Written by Kai Mangino, Bonner Leader at The College of New Jersey ‘19

Read her job profile here.

Click here for a downloadable version of this profile.