Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10.“I credit Adelphi with giving me the knowledge and experience to succeed”—Matthew Jordan ’07
At 27 years old, mathematical statistician Matthew Jordan was awarded the United States Census Bureau Bronze Medal Award; the agency’s highest honorary recognition. Mr. Jordan has a history of setting himself apart from the crowd, a trend that started during his years at Adelphi University.
The captain of Adelphi’s swim team, he was a two-time MVP, made the NCAA championships twice, and earned Academic All-American honors. He was also the recipient of Adelphi’s Presidential Award for Student Athletics, and honored Male College Athlete of the Year by the Nassau County Sports Commission. During his four years at Adelphi, he set four school relay records and one individual record. His individual record in the 50 yard freestyle still stands today.
When he began his college search, Mr. Jordan was looking for a school where he could swim. He chose Adelphi because the University offered him a swimming scholarship, and because of its strong programs in chemistry and mathematics, two fields he was interested in.
Mr. Jordan had declared a major in chemistry before deciding to make the switch to mathematics. “It turned out to be the best decision I ever made in college,” said Mr. Jordan who, after graduating from Adelphi, completed his master’s in applied mathematics in 2009 from C.W. Post.
While he was pursuing his master’s, the United States was in the height of a recession. “I, like everyone else across the country, was looking for jobs but was nervous,” he said. During his search, the U.S. Census Bureau struck him because his skill set seemed to fit perfectly with the agency. “The Census Bureau made clear the importance that candidates have experience in probability and statistics, a branch within math that I really love and enjoy,” he said.
As a mathematical statistician for the U.S. Census Bureau, where he has been since 2009, he works for the American Community Survey. “The decennial census [the United States Census] is the once a decade operation that everyone thinks of when they think of the Census Bureau. It was what I thought of before I started working here,” he said. But the American Community Survey produces one year estimates, three year estimates, and five year estimates. In addition to measuring the population by age, race, and sex like the decennial census does, the American Community Survey also measures by income, educational attainment, poverty, and veteran status, among many other things.
“We’re able to get more of a profile of the country with the American Community Survey,” said Mr. Jordan. “One can think of the decennial census as a snapshot of the country every ten years. The American Community Survey is a little more like a movie. You’re able to see a progression, and a more detailed progression.”
The first project he worked on at the Census Bureau required that he determine why the variances and margins of error were higher in the American Community Survey estimates of populations in group quarters, such as prisons, dorms, or military barracks, than of houses or apartments. He had the opportunity to present his findings at the 2010 Joint Statistical Meetings, an international conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia. “It was exciting, especially in my first year, to present among other representatives from the U.S., Canada, France, England, the United Arab Emirates, and China,” he said.
Just a few years later he was part of a team that determined which states and countries needed to provide language assistance, anything from translators to ballots in other languages, at polling places. “Using data from the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey, my team and I were able to determine what language speakers needed help in what areas of the country. Those languages varied quite a bit, anything from Spanish to a number of Asian, American Indian and Alaskan Native languages.”
Based on the data he and his team provided, the U.S. Department of Justice could tell county officials where to provide help and in which languages. This project helped millions of voting age citizens vote in the 2012 election, and for his “superior federal service,” Mr. Jordan received the Census Bureau Bronze Medal Award.
“It felt absolutely incredible to receive this award,” said Mr. Jordan, who strives to move up the ranks at the U.S. Census Bureau and eventually become branch chief, a role in which he would oversee and manage all operations within a department.
“I credit Adelphi with giving me the knowledge and experience to succeed,” he said. “Adelphi, with its challenging academics and extracurricular activities, taught me time management and goal setting techniques that have made me the well-rounded professional that I am today.”