On November 16th, the Student Affairs Department held a Thanksgiving Celebration for students and faculty.
It is generally believed that the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621 when the Puritan pilgrims who were the first to settle in the New World to escape persecution in Europe arrived on the Mayflower. Thanksgiving was not declared an official holiday until November 26, 1789 by President George Washington. Then in December 26, 1941 the official date of Thanksgiving was moved from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday of the month.
Laura Wooldridge was the mc for the event. After she welcomed everyone to the event, Courtney Hill, the Director of Strategic Planning & Business Development gave an interesting and informative presentation about why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the U.S. Following Courtney, the drama club did a brief play highlighting the important parts of the Thanksgiving celebration.
Students and faculty enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving celebration by having: Hala turkey, green beans, corn, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, potatoes, relish, cornbread and pie (pumpkin, pecan, and apple).
The event then closed by asking faculty and students to say what they are thankful for.

On November 9th, the Student Affairs Department and the Indian Spirit club held the second annual Diwali celebration. Diwali is a festival of lights. Its most popular and celebrated in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. It is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. Diwali is a word that actually refers to a row of clay lamps.
It is celebrated in the happiness of Lord Ram who was a king, had a war and wins good over evil. All the people of his kingdom were happy for the king returning back home from winning the war. So, from that day till today as a vote of thanks to Lord Ram and in the happiness of winning good over evil, people celebrated this day by decorating their houses with lights and lamps and burning crackers.
Haritha Velpula and Adil Mohammed were the mc for the event. After they welcomed everyone to the event, the Drama club did an amazing job telling the story of Diwali (Lord Rama). Next, the Nepali club did a traditional Nepal dance. 
For dinner, we enjoyed traditional Indian food which included: Bhel Puri, Vegetable Pakora, Biryani, Chicken Biryani, and Vegetable Manchuria. 
After dinner we enjoyed hearing from two VIU students about how Diwali is celebrated in Nepal and in India. The Rhythmic Squad then gave a dance performance. The event ended with an open dance floor and students, faculty and staff enjoyed dancing. 


Data science is all about analyzing data using mathematical models and deriving algorithms useful for making decisions in the future. The field of data science offers many employment opportunities due to rapid growth and unusual explosion of data in the recent years. An interested party should have the ability to invest time and hard work in mastering the concepts of data analysis and design. 

Data is exploding at an astronomical pace. These days, companies are generating data in gigabytes and terabytes, and this is making the job of an IT administrator pretty tough in terms or storing and reusing it. The data explosion, however, is also giving rise to new and innovative ways of storing and processing data. Companies are moving away from the old ways of decision making to data driven decision making, for better results.
Traditionally, companies are used to making decisions based on previous results and perceptions based on those results. Now, the availability of huge data is helping them take meaningful steps and make informed decisions based on the results obtained from processing their data. This methodology is giving a clear overview of present and future outcomes of the decisions with absolute real and accurate predictions. In this context, it is necessary to find ways of handling the data. The science that deals with the process of handling and processing data for decision making is called data science. The people who perform these actions are called data scientists.


In today’s scenario, more than 90% of data that is generated all over the world is unstructured. This data needs to be structured in order to use it for decision making purposes. Data science involves collecting the data, cleaning it up, and building a technique that extracts new information about that specific data. Companies today are facing a challenging situation where the data that is generated is either obsolete and insufficient, or there is more than required in order to make it useful. In case the data is insufficient, one has to find the means to search the essential data and convert it into a useful form for decision making. In the case that there is too much data, the scientist has to select the necessary data within the cluster and use that to make the final decision. 


Over the last several years, data has become cheaper to collect and store. There are many free computing tools available to do something about the data deluge that is currently prominent among different areas of science and business. But big data is a new, cutting-edge technology in a sense that we have data in areas that we didn’t used to have it. We didn’t have access to GPS information from cars, or the gene structure of various living organisms in the world, so nowadays we have access to various kinds of data, which is creating new avenues for us to answer questions that were left unanswered before. This data is always unstructured and mostly filled with uncertainty. This kind of uncertainty is dealt with easily using various concepts of statistics and machine learning concepts available in data science.


Data science is a field that has existed for a long time, but has just recently attained significance in the last couple of years due to an unusual explosion of data. This has generated many opportunities in the information technology sector. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be a threefold increase in the number of job opportunities for data scientists. According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s research, by 2018 the United States will experience a shortage of 190,000 skilled data scientists and 1.5 million managers and analysts capable of handling such large data and develop meaningful insights from them. With an estimated 40,000 exabytes of data being collected by 2020 — up from 2,700 exabytes in 2012 — the implications of this shortage become apparent. Further driving this explosion in data collection and the demand for skilled practitioners is the wide range of sectors that will leverage big data analytics in the next decade. These sectors include retail, manufacturing, health care, and government services apart from other existing users. It’s better late than never to delve into this high growth opportunity.


Venu Ammanabrolu is pursuing his Master of Science in Information Systems at Virginia International University. He has nearly a decade of experience working as a senior business analyst in India. He is presently pursuing his passion to become a data scientist after getting involved in the decision making process.

On October 4, 2015 Student Affairs held a VIU Diversity Luncheon called Rosh Hashanah Celebration. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which means “Head of the Year” and marks the beginning of a 10-day period that includes prayer, self-examination, and repentance.  Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month and the customs associated with the holiday are sounding the shofar, eating challah, and tasting apples and honey because they represent “A Sweet New Year.”

A VIU Student, Bakhtiyor Rahimov volunteered to be the mc for the event. The event opened with a brief video about Rosh Hashanah. Our guest speaker, Rabbi Isserow shared about the significance of Rosh Hashanah in the Jewish faith. Rabbi Isserow also did a blessing over the bread (Challah).  We then ate Challah and apples with honey which represented a “a sweet new year.” After the blessing, lunch was served. We had roasted chicken, challah, vegetables, kugel, and honey cake. While eating, everyone enjoyed traditional Jewish music. The VIU dance club then came and did a traditional Rosh Hashanah dance.  Toward the end of the event, the audience was asked questions about the presentation to see what they learned.

Student Affairs held its first Diversity Luncheon of the 2016-2017 academic year on September 27, 2016. It was the Latin and Hispanic Heritage Celebration.  Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Latin and Hispanic individuals.

 Ana Serrano, who is from Guatemala, was the mc for the event. The ceremony started with a collaboration signing between Liliana Robeson, the Founder of the Etnika Foundation and Dr. Suleyman Bahceci. To help the attendees know more about Latin America, a short video was shown.  Ms. Robeson then came to talk about Colombia and her foundation, Etnika. This was followed by a presentation by Jorge Serrano about Guatemala. Victoria from the Etnika Foundation performed a Cumbia Dance. After the dance performance, lunch was served. For lunch we served: tacos, rice, beans, yucca, and papusas. While eating everyone enjoyed listening to traditional Latin and Hispanic music. Once lunch was over, Jorge Serrano came back up and gave a brief presentation on Mexico. Afterwards, a VIU student, Shirely from Colombia came and did several Latin games. The event closed with Ms. Robeson, Victoria, and Shirley showing the audience different dance moves. 

Highlight Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WZoYg9-5i8