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Joshunda Sanders

was born in Detroit, Michigan and, along with her three siblings, was raised in the working-class suburb of Romulus by her mother Denise after her parents separated when she was five.

Her parents stayed on good terms and encouraged their children to aim high—that included encouraging young Boler-Davis to become an engineer when it became clear that most Christmas mornings she was good at being in charge of toy assembly, or that, when something broke, she could easily fix it using her ingenuity. A middle school teacher was the first to suggest to her that she become an engineer, before she even knew what that meant.

Her older sister was the first person in the family to go to college and attended Harvard University. Boler-Davis, inspired, majored in chemical engineering at Northwestern University. She went on to earn a master’s degree in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Boler Davis started ...