Nicosha Porter, data analyst, celebrated her 18th birthday at Dallas College. “I grew up here,” she laughed. “Literally.”
Today, when “job-hopping” is the norm for many, Porter’s career with Dallas College is a unique story — one that began with a work-study position almost as soon as she set foot through the doors of the Mountain View Campus nearly 23 years ago.
Porter knew from the start that community college was for her. She didn’t want to place a heavy financial burden on her parents, and she knew a two-year degree would allow her to fast-track her career. A recruiter who visited her high school explained, “While you’re working and earning a degree in two years, your friends will still be college. Then, when they graduate, you’ll be their supervisor because you’ll already have the experience.”
“That just piqued my interest,” she said. “I’m sold. Sign me up.”
She didn’t realize when she applied to Mountain View that her career with Dallas College would start almost immediately. She was called to campus to correct her FAFSA — that’s when she asked for a work-study job and was hired on the spot.
“I didn’t know that would change my trajectory tremendously.”
Falling in Love with Data
Porter would end up staying with Dallas College as a full-time employee, beginning her career in financial aid, followed by a position with the Rising Star program where she also put her financial aid knowledge to use.
When a position as a report specialist opened, Porter raised her hand. The position largely dealt with pulling data and reporting it out.
“I had heard that querying was like learning a second language, and it still didn’t deter me from wanting to help and learn. And so I simply raised my hand and said, ‘Well, I’ll give it a shot.’”
Porter credits several mentors at Dallas College, whom she refers to as the “Greats in Data,” for helping her learn. “They just poured into me.”
The position allowed her to combine her love for processes and workflows with technical aspects. “It just married all my interests and packed it up in one. That’s when I fell in love with data.”
In her role as data analyst with the Strategic Research & Analytics (SRA) team, Porter works on a variety of projects, including assisting with consultations, pulse projects and long-term research projects.
Porter’s role, as she explained it, is transforming data into information that can be understood and used to create change. “Data out of context is just numbers and symbols,” said Porter.
Pouring Into Others
While she’s grown her own skills and career with Dallas College over the years, Porter said she’s also watched Dallas College grow over time.
“I have seen Dallas College take shape to create a culture of proactive intentions and servant leadership. To that point, leaders also serve as active participants in the educational experience we provide and offer mentorship to uplift future leaders.”
As for the future, Porter says she looks forward to taking on more project leadership roles, continuing to find ways to increase department efficiency and supporting others in the same way others supported her.
Just as Porter had mentors who supported her early on in her career, she now is paying it forward by coaching and mentoring other new analysts. “I try to be that helping hand that so many people were for me.”
Porter is also a believer in the power of higher education in providing opportunities beyond what we might think are available to us.
“I like how higher ed provides second chances, how it can create pathways for financial stability. I like how students — me in particular — come and just discover our abilities. We don’t know what we don’t know until we get here, and someone pours into us and shows us what could be. I think that’s what education is. And that’s what we do in our own little unique way in our areas every day.”
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