Outstanding graduates: Clinton Sabah, class of 2023

After earning four STEM degrees in only six years, Clinton Sabah is ready to make a difference

Danielle Lacey 
Sabah's work ethic and passion for service played a major role in his success.
Sabah's work ethic and passion for service played a major role in his success.

By the time Clinton Sabah graduates this May, he will have earned four degrees in six years.

“I didn't think about it while I was doing it because I was so busy working and learning, but now I’m like, ‘wow, that’s impressive,’” Sabah said. “Being able to save money and learn a lot in a short time feels like a real accomplishment.”

Sabah came to the McKelvey School of Engineering as a student in the Dual Degree Program, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Grinnell College in 2022. He continued his studies at McKelvey Engineering, pursing master’s degrees in energy, environmental & chemical engineering and engineering management.

“I'm a first-generation immigrant who comes from a West African family,” Sabah said. “I grew up in a poor neighborhood in Chicago, so I'm used to constantly working to move up and get better. I never turned off that work level.”

Along with a strong work ethic, Sabah says he’s also passionate about service. In fact, helping others is what drew him to engineering and his ultimate goal of working in the pharmaceuticals industry.

“My sister was born disabled and a few months early, so she spent her first three years in the hospital,” Sabah said. “I saw firsthand the importance of medicine and medical devices. I know that what I'm doing is going to help people because I’ve seen it in my own life.”

After graduation, Sabah will move to North Carolina to work with Pfizer as a manufacturing, science and technology (MSAT) process engineer.

Sabah landed his new job while attending the National Society of Black Engineers’ 2023 National Convention with the WashU chapter of the organization and said he credits his success at the event to the mentorship he’d received from Gary Baker, adjunct instructor of engineering management.  

“In his class, we spent time figuring out who we are as people, what we want out of our careers and how we interact with others, which was very helpful,” Sabah said. “Many of the Sever professors have insightful advice that can help students with not just their classes, but also their careers.”

As Sabah prepares to take the next step in his professional journey, he too has words of encouragement to share with students at WashU.

“We’re more capable than we realize,” Sabah said. “As students, sometimes we don't think we're smart or capable enough, but we were able to get through COVID and still excel academically. You guys are really smart and you do really hard work.”

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