Isabel Geisler, Reach Initiative founder, to pursue Ph.D. in sociology

Isabel Geisler
B.A., Global Studies
Cum Laude
Hometown: Middletown, Maryland
Plans: Ph.D., Northeastern University

At UMBC no one has ever told me to temper my ambitions. It was here I learned the adage of not asking if I can do something, but how I can do it. UMBC gave me opportunities I don’t think I could have gotten from any other university.

As a UMBC undergraduate, Isabel Geisler learned quickly that perseverance and planning would serve her well both academically and in bringing to life new initiatives to expand opportunities for others.

Encouraged by her professors to think critically about social problems, and to take action to address them, Geisler created the Reach Initiative, a support program for Baltimore high school girls interested in STEM. The program is based on three pillarsmentorship, research and empowermentand officially launched in 2016-17 with 20 mentors and 20 mentees, after years of intensive research, careful planning, and partnership-building, and a pilot in 2015-16.

Geisler also served as a research assistant for Felipe Filomeno in global studies, and combined her research and service interests through travel to Honduras, where she studied how fair trade coffee could empower women. She later presented her findings at UMBC’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day.

During a research trip to Honduras, Geisler interviews the president and founder of an all-women coffee cooperative; photo courtesy Geisler.

A Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar and France-Merrick Fellow, Geisler is also a Jacqueline Hrabowski Scholarship recipient, a 2016 AAUW Campus Action Project grantee, and the recipient of a Ricardo Salinas Foundation Scholarship. She has served as a youth member of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, and has remained engaged in the UMBC community through the Student Government Association and the UMBC Stilettos a capella group.

Geisler plans to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology at Northeastern University.

Portrait by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.