Isabella Sanders Earns Two More Tech Degrees
For Isabella Sanders, Commencement may feel a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. She is double-dipping — earning two degrees — for the second time.
In Fall 2019, Sanders earned a master’s in operations research in the College of Engineering and a master’s in geographic information science and technology in the College of Design. This semester she is earning an MBA from the Scheller College of Business and a Ph.D. from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering.
“Although I am a fifth-generation Ph.D. graduate, I am the first woman in my family to get a Ph.D.,” Sanders said. “My mother was a refugee from Cambodia and became the first woman in her family to graduate from college in the United States.”
That is why she is passionate about empowering women in STEM.
“Women are often discouraged from staying in STEM, and I hope to change that,” said Sanders, who was active in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). “While serving SWE at Georgia Tech I was able to help rebuild a graduate SWE group that has now won awards at the national level.”
For Sanders, completing two graduate degrees during the pandemic offered some opportunities that she would not have had otherwise. In 2020 she got to do an in-person summer internship at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, doing supplier risk analysis for the industrial base of the Army.
“As hard as Covid-19 has been, I believe it has brought me closer to my Ph.D. and MBA classmates and jumpstarted my career,” she said.
While at Redstone she saw a posting for a faculty position at West Point. She applied and got the job.
“I was hired as an instructor and researcher in the Operations Research Center (ORCEN) within the Department of Systems Engineering in October, and I started teaching in January. After completing my Ph.D., I will move into an assistant professor role within the department,” she said.
Sanders grew up in Port Jefferson, New York. She came to Tech in 2016, after earning a bachelor’s degree in math from MIT. She said she will miss the people she met at Tech.
“My classmates-turned-friends have been the most important part of my time at Georgia Tech,” she said. “No one gets a degree alone. My classmates have made me a better person and scholar. Georgia Tech keeps you humble, and the support network I have had at Tech has been unparalleled.”
Sanders, selected to be the student speaker for the Ph.D. Commencement ceremony, will use her speech to acknowledge the people who helped her throughout her journey. After the ceremony she will celebrate with her family and friends.
“My Ph.D. friends and I are taking a day trip to the countryside to commemorate the occasion. I’m also excited to celebrate with my MBA classmates, unlike my other graduate degrees, we are all graduating at the same time and it's nice to be able to share the moment," she said. "I’m looking forward to seeing all the other graduates, from every discipline, come together for one event at Bobby Dodd.”
Sanders’ has several relatives who are Tech graduates: her brother Eli, ECON 2019; her father, Daniel P. Sanders, M.S.AM 1991, M.S. OR 1992, Ph.D. ACO 1993; her grandfather, Hugh A. Sanders, AM 1965, M.S. AM 1969; her great uncle, John J. Owen III, B.S. AE 1969, M.S. AE 1973, M.S. OR 1973, M.S. IE 1992, Ph.D. IE 1993; her great uncle, Hal R. Sanders, EE 1952; and another great uncle, Wylie H. Sanders, EE 1958. She also has several distant relatives who are Tech graduates.