Alumni Profile: A lifelong commitment to the Notre Dame mission

Author: Samantha Adamczewski

Alumni Michael Sayer speaks on a panel in Jordan Hall of Science at August Immersion.

Returning to Notre Dame was never a question for Michael Sayer (BS‘93, ‘MS19). Living in Missouri, he did not know how that would be possible, but when the Online Master’s in Data Science Program was created here, he knew that would be his next path.

By 2016 he had completed two masters degrees in business administration and public health and was leading a 20-person data team in a large children’s hospital. While thinking about his next career move, he saw an advertisement for the new program and was one of the first applicants for the inaugural cohort in 2017. The presentation video drew him in, as did the sponsorship by AT&T.

Always considering himself a data guru, Sayer started classes in the fall of 2017, thinking that the experience would be “a breeze” while also enhancing his skills. He quickly realized that he had a lot to learn about statistics, coding, and communication.

“Within two weeks of starting the program, I was humbled by the course content rigor and by my superstar cohort classmates,” he said.

Both of those aspects inspired him to learn more and make an impact. This new mindset changed his career path, causing him to realize that he found joy in data and wanted to make that a part of his everyday work.

After graduating from the program, Sayer became the senior director of data science at a large children’s hospital and leads a team in a field that he is passionate about. As an added bonus, he has a better work/life balance and enjoys his day-to-day environment.

Sayer’s involvement with the University did not end at graduation. He returns to campus each August to attend orientation, which helps welcome the new students to the program. He also travels to the yearly January immersion events.

“In my current role, I have the unique opportunity to assist with the capstone project, which happens in the student’s final semester in the program,” Sayer said. “This collaboration benefits my organization as an extension of my data science team. I have used the results from these to launch larger data science projects within my organization.

“My education is reinforced with every capstone project; I observe diverse perspectives and approaches from the students which produce strong solutions quickly.”

While Notre Dame may be in a different time zone, Sayer always feels connected, and was pleasantly surprised at the lifelong friendships formed with his online classmates as well as the faculty and staff.

“Aside from the immersions, the cohort structure and meeting platform strengthened connections among students and faculty,” he said. “I felt more connected with faculty in this program than in most of my undergraduate classes.”

If you want to learn more about the program and if it is the right fit for you, check out our upcoming events or email