Required first-year class leads to dream career for ASU data analytics grad

Narda Paulina Lizárraga Leyva received the ASU Alumni Association Medallion Scholarship all four years

Narda Paulina Lizárraga Leyva

Narda Paulina Lizárraga Leyva.


Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.

Medallion Scholar Narda Paulina Lizárraga Leyva started off her time at ASU as an undecided business student, as she didn’t know much about what options she could even pursue.  During her first year at ASU, she was required to take a beginners computer information systems course, which made her nervous due to her lack of experience in the area. However, that course made her realize she had found her passion in data analytics and computer science.

“Coming from a low-income high school I was never exposed to the diverse options of career paths and never knew the choices I had,” said Lizárraga, who grew up in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. “Throughout the semester I found myself really enjoying lectures and taking time out of class to learn new strategies and improve my skills in computer science.” 

During her sophomore year, Lizárraga was still undecided on her academic focus, but the suggested deadline for choosing a major was drawing near. One of her favorite computer information systems tutors suggested that she look into business data analytics. She decided to take that advice and declared her major as data analytics within the W. P. Carey School of Business. “To this day, I do not regret my decision and think it’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made,” she said.

Now she's graduating with a degree in business data analytics from the W. P. Carey School of Business with a certificate in leadership in business. 

One of Lizárraga’s favorite spots on campus to study for her courses was Noble Library. She loved being able to go there to work on homework or read with a cup of coffee because she found the spot motivating. However, her favorite spot on campus overall is Old Main. “Every time I pass by Old Main it gives me nostalgia and reminds me of my memories as a Medallion Scholar and what it means to be a Sun Devil,” she said.

Lizárraga received the ASU Alumni Association Medallion Scholarship all four years, as well as the New American University Scholarship, Hispanic Women’s Corporation Scholarship, McCord Scholar Scholarship, ASU Sun Devil Family Association Award, Michael C & Connie Metzger Scholarship and the ASU Earn to Learn Scholarship.

Lizárraga initially chose ASU because she felt that the university was devoted to helping students pursue a degree without experiencing financial stress. “ASU offered me support and opportunities I don’t think I would’ve received anywhere else,” she said. 

One of those opportunities was being able to meet such a diverse group of people.  Though she found it difficult to relate to other students at first, Lizárraga quickly realized how much she valued being able to work with students and faculty who hold different ideas and values.

“I learned so much from the people I have met. … I am now a lot more open-minded and am always excited to meet new personalities and create new relationships,” she said.

Though all of the professors Lizárraga had at ASU taught her something she will carry with her after graduation, her supply chain professor, Eddie Davila, made a significant impression. 

“Professor Davila taught me that it is ultimately your own responsibility to really embrace what you are learning and take in as much information as possible, because at the end of the day it’s what yours and what you’ll have after graduating,” she said. “As long as you believe you tried your best and gained as much as you could, you’ll be successful.”

That’s why her advice to current students is to take on new challenges. Lizárraga said, “(College) is a time of learning new things, so do new things and create new experiences.”

The next step for Lizárraga is working as a software developer for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

“I am looking forward to not only applying the skills I have learned at ASU, but also developing new skills, experiences, knowledge, and of course, software!” Her ultimate goal is to start her own company as an independent contractor or industry consultant.

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