#ElonGrad 2021 spotlight: Lily Sandifer-Stech, computer science and international & global studies

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2021 from a wide array of disciplines.

Honors Fellow Lily Sandifer-Stech ’21 declared an international and global studies major early in her time at Elon out of a desire to learn about global cultures and events. After enrolling in a few computer science courses, she discovered a new field of interest and added a second major.

“I really enjoy the problem-solving nature of the major and thinking analytically about my code,” she said.

Sandifer-Stech is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a recipient of the Computer Science Academic Achievement award and Outstanding Performance Award in Chinese. Faculty in the Department of Computer Science recognized her as a top member of the Class of 2021.

Tell us about your research.

I wrote my honors thesis on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) commitment to best practices in project accountability and transparency. I had an interest in international accountability and transparency and my mentor introduced me to the recently established AIIB. I was eager to do research in an area that was fairly new.

What are you proudest of when you reflect on your time at Elon?

My proudest accomplishment was my honors thesis because I learned so much about the research process over those two years — from new research methods to just learning how to be flexible when data collection doesn’t go as planned.

How did your mentor influence your research process?

I worked closely with my research mentor, Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies Jason Kirk, who was very encouraging especially whenever I felt like I was stuck. He was great to talk through ideas with, often showing me new perspectives I hadn’t considered before.

What are your plans after graduation?

Following graduation my immediate plans are to gain work experience in software engineering.

What advice would you give future Elon students?

I would advise future Elon students to make connections with professors early on.

What’s your favorite Elon tradition?

My favorite Elon tradition is the Festival of Holiday Lights because the campus looks so beautiful and it’s a good time to take a break and catch up with friends during a time when everyone is busy with final projects and exams.