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  May 15, 2000

University Scholar, Triple Major
to Try Hand at E-Commerce

University Scholar and triple major graduate Maria Sanabria left her heart in San Francisco. That's why the 23-year-old Bridgeport native is headed back there in July.

High Achieving Graduates Look
Set for Promising Careers

An exciting job offer in the city by the bay with the international firm of Andersen Consulting also has something to do with her return, that coincides nicely with Fourth of July celebrations. Her first day on the job is July 5.

"I fell in love with San Francisco," says Sanabria. "I've always been in Connecticut and wanted to travel, to expand my horizons."

She's been doing exactly that - expanding her horizons - ever since her arrival on the UConn campus five years ago from Bridgeport's Central Magnet High School in pursuit of a bachelor of science degree and a triple major: chemistry, chemical engineering, and metallurgy and materials engineering.

"She knows no boundaries," says Marty Wood, assistant dean for undergraduate education in the School of Engineering. "She's limitless in what she can accomplish."

Maybe that's why Sanabria, who walked away on April 25 with the School's outstanding senior award and a $1,000 check, has accepted her first job outside the engineering arena and in unfamiliar territory: an Internet, e-commerce related position.

"The company will train me in computer skills, " says Sanabria. "I think they hired me for my potential." But, she adds, "I still love science and may return to it in the future."

Sanabria, who says she grew up without a role model and, at times, felt like a "poster person" for minorities - particularly her Puerto Rican heritage - says she's come out of her University experience an enriched individual.

"I'm from the inner city and my ethnic background is a little different from most who come here," says Sanabria. Her parents, who now reside in Orlando, Fla., were born in Puerto Rico.

"The University has been supportive, starting off with my research adviser Steven L. Suib," she says of her chemistry professor. "I have a lot of admiration for him."

Sanabria's research involved assessing the properties of manganese oxide colloids, materials used in lithium batteries, yet she is as comfortable writing music or free verse. In some ways, she identifies with the "Belle of Amherst."

"I can relate to Emily Dickinson," says Sanabria of one of America's greatest 19th-century poets, who lived almost as a recluse yet wrote of life's deep emotions.

"She didn't go out in the world and yet the way she viewed the world was so on point with things," says Sanabria. "I feel I haven't experienced anything either, but I feel knowledgeable without the experience. I just haven't tapped into it, yet."

But all that is about to change.

Sanabria's new employer flew her out to the West Coast in coach class, but returned her in first class.

The company also sent her a corporate care package. Included in the package was an orange rubber ball. It read: "Get the stress out."

Sanabria is ready for the experiences that await her. "I hope I can forge the way for others like me," she says.

Claudia Chamberlain