Posted on March 21, 2024 by Rebekah Alegria

Passionate about math and science, alumna Felicia V. found her career trajectory shift after a serendipitous encounter with one of her undergraduate professors Jerome Keating. He shared with her news about the college’s new M.S. in Data Analytics program, and the applied nature of the program inspired her to transition from her previous career into her current profession in data analytics within the intelligence community when she completed her master’s degree in 2021.

Headshot of Felicia V.

Throughout her master's degree, Felicia remained open to exploring opportunities and soon found an affinity for analytics consulting. Working with faculty members Keating, professor of management science and statistics, Max Kilger, professor of practice, and former staff member Lisa Ho, Felicia obtained an Intelligence Studies certificate to accompany her data analytics degree.  

Guided by her professors' recommendations, she engaged with recruiters from various agencies, eventually finding a fit as a data scientist. “I wasn’t really considering leaving the job that I had during my time at UTSA. The advice and encouragement I received from my professors opened my mind and my eyes to opportunities that I didn’t even consider for myself,” said Felicia, who received her B.B.A. in actuarial science from UTSA in 2015. As a data scientist at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence , Felicia operates within the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) . In her role, she contributes to an oversight function that ensures robust information sharing and supports policymakers in making informed decisions. Her responsibilities blend data science and analytics to evaluate datasets, identify trends and conduct statistical analyses to synthesize findings into products that inform policymakers about emerging threats or changes in terrorism-related activities. 

"I’ve adopted the mindset of an all-source analyst, and I have to be aware of a few different things happening at the same time, which is something that is much different than working with data in the private sector,” she explained.  

While this can be challenging, Felicia leverages the expertise of analysts from a variety of organizations. Her day-to-day activities encompass a wide range of tasks, from collaborating on projects with different agencies to contributing to high-level briefings such as the President's Daily Brief.  

This unique blend of responsibilities and the opportunity to directly impact national security makes Felicia's role both fulfilling and intellectually stimulating. 

"Having more women join the male-dominated federal intelligence workforce only makes us stronger. It gives our work different levels of insight and reduces biases, which is exactly what we are supposed to be doing when we present our findings to policymakers to make better-informed decisions. 

“Seize opportunities even if you feel unfamiliar or unrepresented. Be the role model you wish you had encountered earlier in your career,” encouraged Felicia, who was born in San Antonio and takes great pride in her Mexican American heritage and maternal familial roots in Mission San Jose.  

As part of the college’s M.S. in Data Analytics program, students also can participate in the Critical Technology Studies Program, which allows students to receive specialized training regarding the intelligence community and the national security field. They complete three national security courses and engage in a hands-on practicum with government and industry partners working in the national security sector.  The college was named an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence in 2018.   To learn more about the MSDA program and the Intelligence Studies Graduate Certificate, visit 

— Rebekah Alegria
Note: Felicia’s last name is not being used to protect her identity as part of the national security community.