Sarah Snyder ’05, ’09 M.S., ignored the typical advice when choosing a college—she did not tour campuses or speak with admissions counselors. While visiting a friend from high school who was enrolled at Florida Tech, she crashed a couple of classes on campus and found exactly what she was looking for—a STEM school with person-oriented experiences and a level of caring and faculty involvement that was missing from the classes she was taking.
A space sciences major who joined NASA–Kennedy Space Center after graduation, Snyder never expected it would be her other campus involvement as a resident assistant, orientation team member and campus tour guide—experiences helping incoming students navigate campus life—that would ultimately fuel her career path. Snyder is a customer experience manager for ZeeMee, a social media platform that connects students with the colleges they want to attend. By uploading photos and videos to their profiles, users can distinguish themselves during the application process and showcase their personalities for admissions officers. Prospective students can connect with other students and learn the ins and outs of campus from their peers—many even choose roommates and clubs before arriving on campus.
It’s Snyder’s job to optimize the platform to help prospective students make these valuable connections. Each day is a new challenge, and she enjoys digging into why something isn’t working and providing feedback to make better experiences.
As much as her own college search and campus activities laid the groundwork for her passion to help students find their fit in higher education, her career trajectory, too, was serendipitous in her success. After starting as a research scientist at NASA, the retirement of the space shuttle program prompted her to pivot toward another passion: teaching. She worked as a college physics instructor in the Pacific Northwest before an opportunity at the University of California at Berkeley lured her back into research. To balance the high cost of living in California, she took on a second job as a math tutor, later parlaying those tutoring skills into an operational role with a virtual education application.
Fast forward a few years, a pit stop back at NASA and cue ZeeMee. Recruited by the founder of her old tutoring application who had moved on to become CEO of ZeeMee, Snyder joined the team in 2021, coming full circle to unite her experience in research, teaching and student life in an app future Panthers can use in their college search.
YOUR SUPERPOWER: Adaptability.
PETS: Three dogs—a retired Homeland Security explosives detection dog and two rescues. All are living their best lives in Maine.
USUAL WEEKEND ACTIVITY: My backyard is 7 acres with a lake at one end, so summer activities include kayaking and hiking.
FAVORITE FLORIDA TECH MEMORY: Nearly stepping on an escaped octopus during a campus tour not once, but twice!
This piece was featured in the spring 2022 edition of Florida Tech Magazine.