“Having grown up around scientists, you’d think I would have gone in the direction of biology or medicine – and I considered it, but I was always drawn more towards mathematics,” Sanborn says. During her elementary and secondary education in a small town in Michigan, she attended math-focused events at local universities that specifically encouraged girls to participate, educating them about different careers in STEM fields. “Math camp, Science Olympiad … it was all around me from an early age,” she says.
And while her love of math was clear, she found her way to a career in analytics by way of business and economics. “In college, I became drawn to the practical application of math – in business, statistics and especially economics,” she says. “I loved the study of both the macro view of economics and the very micro views, like how people make purchasing decisions every day.”
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Sanborn is quick to recognize that not everyone who has innate skills for math-related subjects ends up cultivating those skills. “If young people, especially girls, have a bad experience with math or science, it can be difficult to overcome,” she says.
“My advice to rising college students is to try a variety of classes, and to not be intimated by the titles of the classes. If you didn’t excel in math in high school, consider taking college math since classes are taught differently. Just because you didn’t do well in math in high school doesn’t mean you won’t in college.