(MS Computational Mathematics ’02)
Attending Duquesne University has been a family tradition for Meghan McCarthy. “My grandfather went to Duquesne, as did my dad, my aunts, my uncles and my cousins,” she said. McCarthy not only followed in their footsteps to earn an undergraduate degree in education in 1994, she returned to Duquesne to pursue her master’s as well.
After graduating in December of ’94, McCarthy was a substitute teacher for a few years until landing a full-time position at Cornell High School in Coraopolis, PA. For the next four years, she taught math and coached the swim team, while hostessing at a local eatery during school breaks. One evening at the restaurant in March 2000, McCarthy bumped into Dr. Thomas Keagy, chairman of Duquesne’s Math and Computer Science Department. When Keagy asked how her teaching gig was going, McCarthy expressed her frustration.
“Dr. Keagy suggested that I look into the Computational Math master’s degree program, which was starting in the fall,” said McCarthy. “At first, I was hesitant to quit my job and go back to school for something that was brand new. But Dr. Keagy said the board members who helped to develop the curriculum were from Pittsburgh corporations and had advised what they needed in future graduates. That’s what sold me. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do afterwards, but I knew I’d be employable.”
McCarthy was one of the first four students to enroll in the Computational Mathematics program and graduated in 2002. After a few semesters teaching one-off courses at local universities, she spent five years at Management Science Associates as a business analyst. In September 2008, McCarthy landed her present job as a business analyst at PNC.
“Our group at PNC concentrates on building relationship throughout the organization,” said McCarthy. “For instance, we help to design training programs that will improve employee-customer encounters at the branch level. So we gather raw human resource data, clean it, and then analyze it using programs like SAS and JMP. Our goal is to implement employee training programs that help our branches earn the highest customer satisfaction scores possible.”
Thinking back on her years at Duquesne University, McCarthy said, “The instructors are amazing. They really care and they meet with you as long as you need. Plus the education you get is relevant because board members work in industry.” In fact, McCarthy herself now sits on the board.
Though she was influenced by many of her professors at Duquesne, McCarthy feels a special gratitude towards Dr. Keagy. “I was in the right place at the right time,” she reminisced. “Before I ran into Dr. Keagy in the restaurant that night, I hadn’t considered going back to school. But the Computational Math program was the right fit for me.”