WT Scholars Recognized for Analytics Skills

Chip Chandler Dec 21, 2020
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WT Scholars Recognized for Analytics Skills

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University students, faculty, staff and alumni recently competed to learn a key 21st-century workplace skill.

The Buff Analytics Learning Competition stretched throughout the month of November, attracting 166 contestants who learned analytical skills beyond what is taught in the classroom. It was co-sponsored by Buff Analytics, a faculty-led initiative that seeks to provide knowledge and resources to learn about business analytics, and the WT chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the only international honor society in computing and information disciplines.

“The 21st-century business environment revolves around an advanced understanding of information and data,” said Dr. De’Arno De’Armond, associate dean of graduate business programs and Paul Engler Professor of Business and Finance. “Those taking the initiative to participate and learn through the analytics learning competition are rewarded for their time and efforts with human capital that will provide better clarity of the business environment around them.”

Each competitor learned analytics through DataCamp. In all, participants chose between 10 skill tracks such as spreadsheet fundamentals, Python and R computer programming, and more. Each track contains three to four courses and take between 12 to 15 hours to complete.

“Ultimately, participants that enrolled and completed their selected courses will strengthen their own analytical skills,” said Dr. Leslie Ramos Salazar, Buff Analytics co-sponsor.

The top performers were recognized Dec. 7 in a Zoom-based award night.

The UPE winner, selected by UPE members is Cuong “Anthony” Nguyen, a Vietnam native who graduated with his MSFE in 2018 and his MBA with a computer information systems emphasis in May.

Buff Analytics winners included:

  • First place: Scott Seethoff, an MBA student from Canyon
  • Second place: Jessica Hanke, a WT staff member from Amarillo completing a marketing degree
  • Third place: Iwona Koszalka-Lafurge, a graduate student in computer information systems and business analytics from Billings, Mont.
  • Fourth place: Shawn Granger, an MBA — healthcare management student from Porter
  • Participant (randomly chosen from the field): Levi Zemanuel, a senior finance major from Amarillo

Also recognized during the meeting were participants who obtained at least 15,000 points in the competition: Ryan Freudenburg, a graduate student in finance and economics from Denver; Dr. Ming Xie, a member of WT’s emergency management administration faculty; Colin Moore, a graduate student in finance and economics from Atlanta; Melissa Chaffin, a junior bachelor of general studies student from Richardson; Jose Cano, a graduate student in computer information systems and business analytics from Tampa, Fla.; John Rizcallah, an engineering graduate student from Amarillo; and Mary Hayward, a part-time instructor of economics and master’s of professional accounting student.

“I am amazed to see so many WT community members participated in this competition to learn analytics,” said Dr. Leon Chen, UPE faculty adviser and Buff Analytics co-sponsor. “I am proud of their excellent performance in this competition, and I believe that they will continue to learn and use valuable analytics skills.”

Being a learner-centered institution is a key component of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.