A statistical adventure

Iowa State graduate Cynthia Clark says she was surprised when she found out she was a recipient of the Iowa State Distinguished Alumni Award. Of course, those who know of her work in statistics as the administrator of N.A.S.S. (the National Agricultural Statistics Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) weren't surprised at all. They may, however, be amazed to hear how Clark ended up in her field -- because, as it turns out, it was by accident.

When Clark came to Iowa State, she wanted to be an academic mathematician. When she discovered there wasn't much of a job market for this field in the 1970s, she changed her path -- to statistics. Since then, Clark has devoted most of her career to government service by working toward the collection, advancement and analysis of national statistical systems. Her work has had a direct impact on national measurements such as unemployment rates, labor force statistics, poverty rates, agricultural production, educational attainment, environmental quality and more.

During her adventurous career, Clark has worked for the U.S. Census Bureau, N.A.S.S., the Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, the Office of Management and Budget, and, in London, for the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics. She credits Iowa State for helping her career take off. Said Clark, "My Iowa State education introduced me to doctoral-level research and my ultimate career managing research in several large official survey organizations. I am proud to have received two degrees from Iowa State -- a master's and a doctoral degree."

Now that Clark is retired from U.S. government services, she is a sought-after speaker and consultant and couldn't be prouder to be an Iowa State graduate. After all, Iowa State helped her find her path -- just like we can help you find yours.

This story is one of a series featuring Iowa State Distinguished Alumni Award winners.