St. Thomas alum John Buresh M.S. '21 receives rose from the Bachelorette's Charity Lawson (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

Tommies on TV: A Bachelor Masters Love of Data Science

John Buresh ’21 MS was living a great life on the East Coast as a data scientist when “The Bachelorette” casting directors took notice of the audition reel his sister encouraged him to submit. The show’s webpage even described the University of St. Thomas alumnus as the “perfect combination of looks and intelligence.”

Despite a fantastic salary from his New York hedge fund employer, the Minnesota native set all income and job security aside to appear as a suitor vying for Charity Lawson’s affection on “The Bachelorette” season that premiered in summer 2023.

John Buresh MS '21, a contestant on the summer 2023 season of the Bachelorette with Charity Lawson, explains how his master's degree in business analytics helped land him on the show and shape his career.

Since the show doesn’t pay contestants other than the lead, he said, “They choose people who have had success in their careers. The Master of Science in Business Analytics degree is why I was able to get into the hedge fund and being in a hedge fund is one reason why I was chosen for the show.”

The now 28-year-old, who spent a season playing professional basketball overseas, has an impressive career history. He did an internship at  PwC and worked in risk assurance at EY. Yet, he wanted a more challenging role.

With a referral from a friend, he landed a dream job at UnitedHealthcare in Minnetonka, the same city where he attended high school. “UnitedHealthcare is where my analytics career started,” he said. He even wrote 12 academic papers while at UnitedHealthcare, many of which were on COVID-19 and some on eating disorders.

But as someone who tends to push himself to strive for more, Buresh set his sights on being the first in his family to attain a master’s degree. He said it helped that his employer offers tuition reimbursement up to $5,250 per year for accredited programs.

“I really didn't want to leave my job, so I started researching a way that I could have night classes and be able to chip away at (the degree) over time,” he said. “Really, the only option was St. Thomas.”

John Buresh meets Charity Lawson
John Buresh makes a first impression with Charity Lawson on "The Bachelorette" television show. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)
ABC/Craig Sjodin

All the other master’s degree programs for business analytics, he said, required daytime class time a couple days a week, or one would have to leave their job entirely and go full time.

“St. Thomas was the most flexible by far,” Buresh said.

"We take immense pride in the flexibility and relevance of our graduate programs at Opus College, especially our MS in Business Analytics, designed for working professionals like John Buresh,” said Laura Dunham, dean of the Opus College of Business. “His journey from an IT risk consultant role to a senior manager of data analytics, propelled by his education at St. Thomas, exemplifies the high demand and transformative power of business analytics skills in today's workforce."

After enrolling in the Opus College of Business at St. Thomas, the pandemic hit the following semester.

“It was a blessing in disguise. The gym was closed; you couldn’t do much on weekends. So, all I was doing in my spare time (outside of the job) was my Saturday courses from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and night courses from 6 to 9 p.m. online. It was a perfect time to do it.”

One of his favorite professors at St. Thomas was John Olson, who is now the associate dean for academic programs and innovation at the Opus College. “He was an amazing professor,” Buresh said. “It was nice to have a professor who had so much industry knowledge that he was able to bring to the classroom.”

Buresh took a course in data storytelling from Olson, who was also his adviser for his capstone project for the nonprofit Feed My Starving Children.

“He really helped us take a bunch of data points and information and create a narrative from it,” Buresh said. “I think this is really important in data because a lot of times you have very technical information, and you're trying to show it to nontechnical folks. And the best way to do that is to tell a story with it.”

Olson says the MS in Business Analytics program emphasizes the art of data storytelling and is a fundamental skill for analytics professionals who aim to influence decision-making.

“John Buresh came to us with a robust foundation in technical analytics and emerged as a masterful storyteller, adept at transforming complex data into compelling narratives,” Olson said. “His capstone project with Feed My Starving Children demonstrated his ability to not just analyze data, but also to craft stories that drive action and change. His work reflected the essence of what we strive to instill in our students."

In addition to the required courses at Opus College, there was an elective course crosslisted by the School of Engineering that called to Buresh.

“I felt compelled to take a Python course because I knew how much it was growing,” he said about the computer programming language. “In my role at the time, everyone was using Python on the data science side. And I was on the data analyst side wanting to make a jump into data science. Taking Python ended up being hugely impactful to my career. It gave me the basic foundations I needed.”

Although Buresh is again working for a UnitedHealth Group company, he still lives in New York. But that will not be forever, he said.

“I love it here, but I don't think I could raise a family here,” he said. “Minnesota is a lot more wholesome. All my family, all my friends, my sister, my nephew, niece, are all back in Minnesota; monthly I go back. I still have a house in St. Louis Park, that’s a rental property right now.”

He makes no promises where he’ll land next. Still single, he even appeared on four episodes of “Bachelor in Paradise” seeking to find love. He said he probably will not appear on another Bachelor Nation franchise.

“There's a reason why I spent the money that I spent on my master's. I get some fulfillment from my career; I want a steady income,” he said. “It's not so much about how you’re perceived from the outside world as much as what fulfills you. So, for me, it's getting right back to analytics.”