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She Just Made History As The First Black Person In The World To Hold A PhD In Survey Methodology

She Just Made History As The First Black Person In The World To Hold A PhD In Survey Methodology

She did not come to play games!

Alena Maze is a wife, vlogger, and mother of seven. Now, she’s adding a new title to her repertoire, recently making history as the first Black person in the world to hold a Ph.D. in survey methodology after successfully passing her dissertation defense.

“Never did I think [this]...would lead me to being a ‘first’ in Black history. After 5-6 years of hard research, I spent the last three months shut up in my office space, focused only on two things; finishing my variance derivations and estimations,” Dr. Maze shared via Facebook. 

I successfully passed my PhD dissertation defense! I’m the first African American person in history to receive a PhD in...

Posted by MAZELEE on Friday, April 16, 2021

As a survey statistician, Maze is responsible for researching the math behind surveys to provide the most accurate sample representative of the whole population and make estimates from that sample size to help formulate survey questions. She was inspired to enter into the sector because of her passion for math, health, and desire to create true inclusivity in surveys moving forward.

"What's a Survey Methodologist? Well I'm a Survey Statistician, so specifically I research the math behind surveys. Suppose we want more information on how diabetes affects women ages 30-40, in order to develop better treatment courses. Well in a perfect world, we would like to send out a survey (i.e., a serious of questions) to all women ages 30-40 with diabetes," Dr. Maze wrote. "However this is not practical for many reasons. So instead we chose a smaller group (called a sample), say 2,000 women from that same population to represent the whole population of 30-40 year old women with diabetes."

She said her role is important in creating more representation in overly white surveys. 

"There are 2 major ways math is used. 1. To create a good sample that is representative of the whole population. A lot of this math problem is finding enough race/eth and socioeconomic diversity in non White participants (Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, etc) that will participate in the survey. Believe it or not it's a big math problem," Dr. Maze wrote. "2. To make estimates from that smaller group of 2,000 women that gives good estimates to the questions of the survey ( e.g., the proportion of women who exercise 3 times a week ) that are close to the estimate we would get is we had answers to the survey from everyone."



While she is grateful to have completed this journey finally, it was not without its fair share of challenges. She hopes that her dream of inspiring other Black girls to reach for the highest heights in education will be manifested by sharing her story. The Facebook commenters were excited about her accomplishments.

"Congratulations! I'm not surprised at your accomplishment, but I'm amazed you're the first Black woman with a PhD in this field IN THE WORLD. Thank you for pushing and putting in the hard work AND doing it as an active momma in a pandemic, with racism running rampant," Jayne Marie Smith wrote. "You're super bad! They should put all of that on your degree, because that's more than anyone has had to overcome to earn that degree."

"Dr. Maze, you’re such an inspiration to me and I am so proud of you. Being an amazing mother to those babies and still reaching for the stars!! You’re a superwoman and it means so much that I can see someone that looks like me achieving so much," Cameryn Conner wrote. "Thank you for sharing your journey! Congratulations! You deserve this. An entire Queen!"

"Soooooo proud of you. Prayed for you now rejoicing with you. At 59 trying to finish my EdD research-based dissertation. Hit a wall last year with covid. Struggling to find principals to participate from the "overwhelmed and busy" population in huge district," Barbara Brooks Hall wrote. "Your words have inspired to keep going. God bless you!!!"

While she admits she has worked extremely hard to get to this point, she gives all the credit for her success to God. 

“During this time, I encountered God’s love, through a divine meeting with His Holy Spirit in a way I cannot wait to share. His love has been enough for me to manifest anything I desire to do, be or become,” she said.

Congratulations, Dr. Maze!

Photo Courtesy of MazeLee/Facebook