Story by Christian Banks and Photos provided by Sabra Neal

Everyone wants to be remembered in some way whether it be leaving behind a legacy or making history. Dutch Fork graduate Dr. SaBra Neal did both, when she became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Computer Sciences and Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and paving way for other minorities interested in CSE.

“Now that I have completed the PhD and GATech has recognized me as the first African American to complete CSE doctoral program I have felt nothing but humbled, thankful, and content. I’m proud of the exposure and excitement I have received from others. I hope that my journey may serve as a catalyst for women of color and minorities to help them in completing their future endeavors in the field of computing.” Dr. Neal said.

Although Dr. Neal has made history she has choose not to let that be the only thing to define her, because just being able to receive a Ph.D. is a honor in itself.

I honestly don’t feel any particular way about being the first African American to receive a PhD in CSE from GATech. Going through the PhD process is a long rewarding experience,”

Dr. Neal said.

Dr. Neal has achieved an esteemed honor, but her career began at Dutch Fork High School in Computer Science teacher Barry Lindler’s classroom.

“ I would say that Mr. Barry Lindler had the most impact on me during my time at DFHS. It was in his class and under his instruction where I was introduced to the world of computing.  No matter how much he annoyed me by pushing me to do things that at the time I didn’t feel I was great at, his faith in me and persistence ultimately led me to this point.” Dr. Neal said.

Dr. Neal was an ideal student according to Mr. Lindler, but watch her grow has really made him feel like he has been able to make a difference in someone’s life.

“I feel really good. There’s times in everybody’s life that you wonder if your really making a difference,” Lindler said, “She has made us very proud.”

After a taking sometime to reflect and relax Dr. Neal has big plans for her future and wants to do big things with her degree.

My future plans now that I have my PhD include taking some time to rest I am decompressing from my higher education journey that has been nonstop since I left DFHS 9 years ago. I am taking the current time to decide between current job offers from companies with my eyes set on being a technical leader for a major corporation within the next 5 years” Dr. Neal said, “I personally want to start a foundation for young women in computing to aid in the diversity issue in the technical field along with one day starting my own startup. “

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