Alumni Spotlight: Ramson Siblings Make Their Dream a Reality

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Sherri Ramson (IE 2011) and Eric Ramson (IE 2011), a brother and sister duo from South Florida, recently graduated from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE). Unlike most traditional ISyE undergraduate students, Sherri and Eric decided to make their dream of earning a college degree a reality after being in the workforce for ten years.  With the support of their family and each other, Sherri and Eric graduated from ISyE with high honors.

Since graduating, Sherri has been working as a consultant at Clarkston Consulting, and Eric is a software implementation consultant at Power Plan Consultants. They both share a common goal for the future: never stop learning.

ISyE:  What prompted you to pursue your undergraduate degree after being in the workforce for ten years?  Was it something you always wanted to do?

SR:  I would have liked to go to college after high school, but it always seemed like an unrealistic option for me. I come from a family of a single mom with three kids, and no influential adults in my life had a college degree. Finances were tight and school was expensive. My mother doesn’t have a degree, but she has an amazing work ethic and a constant desire to succeed in life. She instilled those values in me and my brothers, and it helped me to excel professionally. I worked for a few companies and was always put on the fast track to management. I came to a point where I was on a great track to make a career out of retail management. But I wanted more. I wanted something more challenging.  

ER:  I always wanted to go to school, but as Sherri stated, I didn’t really have the opportunity.  Although I had a relatively successful career, I never felt that I was intellectually challenged at my job.  After talking it over with my wife, then girlfriend, Sandra, we came up with a plan to send me to college.  Without Sandra’s encouragement and influence, I probably would have never gone to college.

ISyE:  What influenced your decision to study at Georgia Tech?

SR:  Both Eric and I were attracted to Georgia Tech because it had the #1 IE program in the nation.

ISyE:  How was it that you and your sibling decided to get your degree at the same time, and at the same school?

SR:  We both had toyed around with the idea, and then Eric started talking about really taking the steps and moving to Georgia to pursue a degree from Georgia Tech. The more we talked, the more we realized how much we could be there and support each other. I was nervous about going back to school, but when Eric told me I wouldn’t be alone, I knew this was the time to take the leap or I may never go.

ISyE:  Did you both have the same class schedule?  In what ways did you support each other with your work load?

SR:  Though we didn’t always have the same schedule, were always there to motivate each other. We each have different skills and were able to combine those.

ER:  We always had a reliable study and homework partner in each other. We each have different strengths and skills, which made us a great team.

ISyE:  How do you think your “non-traditional” undergraduate experience compares to that of a traditional one?

ER: Our experience was very different than that of a traditional undergraduate experience. We missed out on the social side of things, like living in dorms and being involved in Greek life. It had been some time since we had been in a classroom, and there were many times when we fell behind in the information needed for the class. The age difference automatically makes you feel a little different. At first this seemed like a negative trait to have, but as we got to know more students, we realized we had a lot to offer them by having some real world work experience. We felt at times almost like an unspoken mentor. 

On the plus side, we were very focused and able to appreciate the value in learning the material. We viewed the classroom in the same way we would a work office, and treated it with the same maturity and professionalism.

ISyE:  What was your favorite spot on campus?

ER:  The ISyE main building was near most of our classes where we did most of our studying, and there was a microwave there.

SR:  Juniors was my favorite spot on campus, and our favorite place to eat.  We were always looking for an excuse to go there. Sadly, it closed.

ISyE:  What is your fondest memory of your Georgia Tech experience?

SR:  Graduation day at the Dome when Professor Chen Zhou walked over and shook my hand, congratulated me, and wished me luck on my future. That was the moment I realized I did it!

ER:  The week before we started at Tech, Sherri and I snuck into the IC building.  We walked around, looked at the classrooms, and talked about what we thought it would be like to go to Tech.  We were both so excited at the opportunity to go to such a prestigious school.

ISyE:  You both graduated with high honors.  What do you feel contributed to your academic success?

SR:  Determination. We both knew how great the opportunity to attend college was for us. We had both had a challenging path just to get there, and knew that we were setting the example for future generations. We didn’t want to just get through it, we wanted to achieve success.

ISyE:  What is the most important thing you learned while at ISyE?

ER: Both of us agree that learning how to handle any problem presented to us was very important. In ISyE, you are given problems outside of your scope of knowledge. You have to be able to do research to find answers, leverage all available resources , and break the problem down into small achievable pieces. You gain a special confidence after solving a few problems that seemed impossible in the beginning.

ISyE:  What advice would you give to a student considering coming to Georgia Tech to study ISyE?

SR:  Be prepared to find answers outside of the classroom. The professors give you work that is beyond what is covered in the lecture, and you have to learn how to research and solve problems on your own. It’s hard and can be frustrating at times, but it prepares you to have confidence when faced with something outside of your comfort zone—a valuable tool to have when starting a career.

ER:  Be prepared to work hard!

ISyE:  Can you tell us one interesting thing about yourself, that you don’t mind us sharing with the rest of the world?

ER:  I’m happily married and the father of a three and half year old daughter , who was born my second year of college.  My family has served as my support structure; I don’t think I would have done so well at Georgia Tech if it weren’t for them.


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