To cherish and celebrate the extraordinary life of Joanna Wheaton, the Joanna Wheaton Memorial Scholarship in Data Science was established by the Wheaton family and Derek and Aubrey Sonderegger to support mathematics and statistics students who are interested in social or environmental justice and eager to use their analytics skills as a tool for enacting good in the world.
“Jo was extremely intelligent and cared about protecting the environment,” said Joyce Wheaton, Joanna’s mother. “She had a love for learning and used science and data to help make the world a better place. This scholarship will ensure her legacy and light live on.”
Honoring a life cut short
Committed to community activism and building a better world, Joanna Wheaton, ’20, served as a beacon of inspiration for the Flagstaff community. Known for being loyal and a selfless champion of local initiatives, her life was cut short in a traffic bicycle accident in May 2021. Joanna’s light and legacy live on through the sustaining roots that connect her to the community.
Joanna joined the Lumberjack alumni community in 2020 as the first graduate of the data science program, where she met NAU’s associate professor of mathematics and statistics, Derek Sonderegger. “Jo was an incredible student, passionate activist, and insightful collaborator,” said Derek. “The inquisitiveness and dedication she displayed in classes I taught carried over to both her senior project and subsequent collaborations after she graduated.”
After graduating, Joanna joined Flagstaff’s housing commission as a lead data scientist and co-founded an organization, FlagStats. She combined her passion of well-researched statistics and community activism, to bring awareness to prevalent community issues.