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Love for Learning Leads Computer Science Alum to Meaningful Career Using Technology to Improve Healthcare
Syed Jaffery | 2004 Alumnus | Computer Science
(Update: Jaffery recently graduated with a master's in Health Administration and Interprofessional Leadership from the University of California, San Francisco. He now works as a healthcare administration fellow at HonorHealth in Phoenix, AZ.)
In the new frontier of the digital age, a world of uncharted possibilities, Syed Jaffery is applying his knowledge of computer science to help create revolutionized ways of looking at and improving healthcare.
Since graduating in 2004 from IUPUI with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and a minor in mathematics, Syed has dedicated much of his time to learning both in and outside of the classroom.
“I like to consider myself as an intellectual adventurer,” says Syed. “Just because I take on these intellectual adventures doesn’t mean I conquer them—it’s the spirit that I have in taking on these adventures that keeps me going.”
One of these adventures has been continuing to take classes at IUPUI since graduation. “When I graduated, I felt like I was leaving a family. I missed the camaraderie and intellectual challenges I found at IUPUI. Taking organic chemistry after graduation and getting an A is an experience I’m really happy with.”
Maintaining this connection with campus has allowed Syed to observe the changes IUPUI has undergone over the last ten years. “I’ve noticed the growth in opportunities on this campus—both socially and in regards to preparing students for the real world. IUPUI is quickly becoming a traditional university that just happens to be located in the middle of a great city.”
During his time at IUPUI, Syed found wonderful faculty mentors in the School of Science: “Dr. Gavrin and Dr. Watt both epitomized what a great teacher and mentor should be. They both gave me something to aspire to. They are intellectual luminaries while still being down to earth. Seeing Dr. Watt apply his talents with mathematics to different industries and education showed me I could also apply my knowledge in many important ways.”
The applications and challenges of computer science are a large part of what drew Syed to the field in the first place. “It’s a new frontier where you’re reinventing things. You’re a pioneer in a way—going out into uncharted territory and exploring it. You’re doing something new all the time because it’s evolving so quickly.” As an undergrad, Syed used many of his elective hours for life sciences courses in order to gain a better understanding of science and healthcare and explore ways in which computer science could be applied in these venues.
After graduation, Syed started out as a programmer in the financial industry and soon became a project manager for the City of Indianapolis-Marion County IT department. Having this exposure to leadership and responsibility early in his career was a great experience. However, Syed missed the meaningful ways he could use technology to study the life sciences, and transitioned to a position at Wishard Hospital (now Eskenazi Health) and currently works for IU Health.
At IU Health, Syed analyzes large data sets such as those concerning medication usage and uses technology to improve processes in the hospital. “Before everything was paper—that was the source of truth for auditing or analysis. This paradigm has been replaced by electronic health records, which are now our source of truth. Anything that physically exists in IU Health is replicated in this digital system, and it takes many teams to maintain this virtual reality of healthcare.”
Keeping in line with his multidisciplinary academic and professional pursuits, Syed’s interests are also diverse. He is one of the youngest board members of the Indiana chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a global, nonprofit organization that focuses on using information technology to improve healthcare. Syed is interested in changing the world in small ways using technology. “Lots of countries don’t have a healthcare infrastructure. I want to concentrate on using reproducible technology to improve one little area at a time.”
As an avid tea drinker, Syed enjoys exploring Indianapolis, often working on projects in the soft glow of a café. Syed likes to stay active—spending time outside with his Nikon film camera, rock climbing and practicing yoga.
“I didn’t know how it was all going to come together when I first graduated. I just imagined I would become a programmer and then move up the ladder. It has turned out much more than that, and I am happy that it did, because I have had so many diverse experiences.”
-Whitney Walker, Interdisciplinary Studies, 2016