Student Spotlight: Sarah Tinsman

Mandisa Thomas
May 10, 2024

We are featuring Sarah Tinsman, an executive student with 10+ years in education. She has had various roles, from teaching 8th-grade science to leading a STEM nonprofit in Chicago. Read more about why she chose the executive program in social impact strategy and her current social impact work.

Sarah is the Program Director for Inclusive Innovation at the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement. In her role, she advances equity in the sciences on Chicago’s South Side through STEM Education, Employment, Economic Development, and Civic Infrastructure strategies.

Why this program?
I enrolled in the program because I was interested in learning more about how to successfully launch, evaluate, and sustain a social impact initiative. Upon application, I was new in my role, and the initiative I was tasked to lead is also new; I wanted to ensure that I had the tools I needed to support the work. Since I am located in Chicago, I appreciated that the program was hybrid and that I could learn at my own pace without having to move or commute for class. It was a flexible program with classes that interested me and aligned with my scope of work.

Sarah’s Social Impact
My career has been dedicated to providing meaningful on-ramps into the world of science to people who have been traditionally underrepresented in, and excluded from, STEM. In my current role in the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, I am responsible for managing the Inclusive Innovation initiative, a partnership between the University of Chicago, Argonne National Lab, Fermilab, and the University of Illinois aimed at ensuring that Chicago’s South Side residents benefit from the opportunities that will stem from four scientific domains — quantum information science; data science and artificial intelligence; energy and climate; and bioengineering and medicine. Before I joined UChicago in 2023, I served as a director at a nonprofit that provided STEM programs to K-12 students of Chicago’s South and West Sides and supported city-wide initiatives in STEM. I have also had the pleasure of inspiring pre-teens as a former middle school science teacher in Chicago, Dallas, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Advice for future applicants
My advice to future applicants is to be open to learning new concepts and think creatively how you can apply concepts from class, or concepts from your peers, into your own work.