From Player to Programmer: A Q&A with Gophers Lineman and MABA Student Blaise Andries
Monday, December 27, 2021
On the football field, Blaise Andries is one of the best offensive linemen in college football. The All-Big Ten Team performer has helped lead the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team to an 8-4 record and a spot in Dec. 28’s Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
In the classroom, Andries’ accomplishments may be even more impressive. Currently enrolled in the Carlson School’s Master of Applied Business Analytics (MABA) program, Andries was recently named an Academic All-American for the third time, becoming the second Gophers athlete ever to accomplish that.
Andries, who announced recently that he will declare for the NFL Draft following the bowl game, spoke to the Carlson School about the importance of education to him, why he chose to enroll in the MABA program, and what it’s like to take classes alongside working professionals
What does it mean to be a three time Academic All-American?
It’s huge. And that's a testament to my mom and my dad and how they raised me and my siblings. My mom was a valedictorian at her high school, and I was striving to do that. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that in high school, so being an Academic All-American is my way of living up to my mother and my family’s standards.
How do honors like that compare to accolades you receive from playing football?
They’re really similar for me, honestly. You know, football is around for only so long. Sports are great. They teach a lot of lessons about being on a team. But you have to apply that to the rest of your life and the business world, eventually, down the road. So I think both the academic and sports honors go hand-in-hand, because they both teach you a lot of life lessons about working hard and getting rewarded for that hard work.
You got your undergraduate degree in actuary sciences. Why was that the major you chose?
That’s a funny story. In eighth grade, I told my mom that math was my favorite subject. I’ve always loved math and I’ve always loved statistics. She recommended that I become an actuary. So ever since then, I was planning on being an actuary. After [the undergraduate degree], I decided I wanted to broaden my skills a little bit…That's how I found the Applied Business Analytics master’s program.
You’re still in your first semester of that program. How has it gone so far?
It's been a lot of fun. There are tough courses, but I think they taught me a lot, such as programming [like] Python. I’ve coded before, but I think Python might be my new favorite language because it was just that fun.
Has it been difficult to manage a master’s coursework with the football season?
I think the Applied Business Analytics program does such a good job of that because it's a program for working professionals, so everyone else in the class probably has a full-time job. When you look at it, football really is a full-time job for us, especially during the season. We spend countless hours and weekends and everything, pouring our time into it. But this program really allows us the space to be able to do that and still get our schoolwork done.
What is your MABA cohort like?
There is a good mix of people and it's a bit humbling because all these other people have been in the workforce and they've had that experience. They all bring a unique experience that ties into the subjects we’re discussing. I haven't been able to be in the workforce yet, but I like learning from my classmates because it all ties in really well with what Carlson is teaching.
Once you're finished with football, whenever that may be, what sorts of career plans do you have? What are you hoping to do?
I honestly have no clue. I've really enjoyed the programming and the statistics in the backend, as well as the math and business I’ve learned. So I'm hoping something will present itself. I can always go back to be[ing] an actuary. I've passed two of those exams. I think I've set myself up in a way where whatever I decide, I think I'll be successful in it.