Career Spotlight: Valerie Bares, After start in financial services, data-driven professional finds fit in healthcare.

by Sioux Falls Development Foundation
Published 06/30/2020

Valerie Bares arrived at SDSU uncertain about what the future held.

The Springfield, S.D. native gravitated to the department of mathematics and statistics, though, which led her to a unique fellowship program at Capital Services.

She began a graduate fellowship at Capital Services in 2009, graduated in 2011 and was hired full time. She spent two years there before returning to SDSU for her PhD, which led to her current role at Sanford Health.

After working with Sanford’s Profile program for her dissertation, she was hired in 2017 as a biostatistician and now is a senior biostatistician.

“We are a service that provides statistical help to researchers at Sanford Research and physician-initiated research throughout Sanford Health,” she said.

“It seems like it’s not really a typical path to go from the credit card industry to health care, but I really think the fellowship was great to be going through coursework and have a place to apply it sometimes in the same day. Some of what I learned at Capital applies to the health care system and some of the data we work with at Sanford. And … I’m able to bring new and innovative ideas to analyze data.”

While it might not seem a typical career path, the fellowship made it possible, she said.

Growing up, Sioux Falls seemed like a big city, she added. But now that she settled in, it’s just the right size.

“It’s not a big city but it has everything we need to do shopping and entertainment-wise,” she said. “Me and my fiancé recently moved a little north of Sioux Falls to have a little more privacy out of the city, so it’s nice to have that option to be out of town a little bit but still a 10-minute drive to work.”Bares’ experience illustrates the variety of job options available for graduates, added Dr. Kurt Cogswell, head of the department of mathematics and statistics and a professor at SDSU.

“In the state of South Dakota, finance and health care are two very key players for our economy, and the methods Ryan and Valerie learned can apply pretty much across our economy,” he said. “You see our students taking those same methods and applying them in precision agriculture or in manufacturing or in hospitality or in transportation or sports analytics. The methods are fairly universal. The choice of career is up to the student.”