Claire Candelori (left) ’20 (industrial and systems engineering), ’21 (MBA) and Ann-Katherine Candelori ’22 (management information systems) are sisters enrolled at Saunders College of Business. Claire was a Kate Gleason College of Engineering graduate before enrolling at Saunders, while her younger sister Ann-Katherine has been pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Saunders from the start. The Candelori sisters are consistent students on the dean’s list and are heavily involved in the RIT community. We sat down with them to learn more about their undergraduate and graduate experiences!

Q: How is life treating you two right now?

Claire: Life is great! I am very busy completing my master’s of business administration (MBA) degree at Saunders and working two part-time jobs at RIT, but I am thoroughly enjoying my MBA coursework, which compliments my industrial engineering undergraduate education. I am very happy to be working on achieving my goal of attaining my MBA prior to starting my career.

Ann-Katherine: My life is going well. I am enjoying my course work and being back at RIT. 

Q: Claire, you have several leadership awards, including two Lean Sigma Six Yellow Belts, an ACE Associate Certification, and a Legacy Leader Award. Were you always interested in pursuing a leadership path, or did something sway you during your time as an undergraduate?

Claire: I have always been drawn to leadership roles. Both of my cooperative education (co-op) experiences offered me the opportunity to become certified in Lean Methodology, and in addition, I was advised to get certified in areas of interest as it would serve me well when time to apply for jobs and for furthering my career aspirations.

Q: Ann-Katherine, you’re the Chief Academy Officer of the Leadership Academy @ Saunders. What has your greatest accomplishment been in the leadership academy so far?

Ann-Katherine: I enjoy helping create new leadership certificate programs and events where students from all RIT academic colleges can participate and gain knowledgeable skills to become their own leader that will benefit their professional career. We are currently planning for the new Global Leadership Certificate Program, one of three certificate programs offered through the Leadership Academy @ Saunders, and a Women’s Leadership Experience event. It is truly a meaningful and impactful experience to be a part of a wonderful organization such as the Leadership Academy @ Saunders.

Q: You have both had paid internship positions during your time at RIT. How has your co-op experience been so far?

Claire: I had the privilege of working at Pratt & Whitney and Corning, Inc. for my co-op experience. During my time at Pratt & Whitney, I realized a knowledge gap. I understood the engineering aspects of the jobs but did not have the business background to connect the bigger picture of the company’s overall workings. I wanted to bridge the gaps between business and engineering departments, which made me interested in pursuing a career in supply chain management. In order to do so, I realized I needed the business perspective, which led me to the decision to pursue my MBA. That way, I would be fully prepared to start my career with both the business and engineering skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the industry.

Ann-Katherine: My co-op has been one of the greatest experiences in my professional career. I collaborated with international teams, gained industry knowledge in my interests, and provided meaningful work for my projects at Cisco Systems, Inc. 

Q: You both have been involved in the RIT dance scene and have been dancing competitively for many years. Tell us about it.

Claire: I have had a passion for dance since I started at the age of four. I became a competitive Irish Step at the age of 10. I had a successful career as a highly ranked competitive Irish Step dancer being a two-time North American Irish Dance Championship Qualifier.

I was very active in RIT Vis Viva Dance Company, as well as RIT NTID Dance Company. In Vis Viva, I was vice president, performing team member, and choreographer. 

It was such an eye-opening experience to be a part of a collaborative and welcoming environment within the hearing and deaf communities. My favorite part was being a part of a show that connected everyone through dance.  It was fascinating and extremely impressive to see the extensive technical workings of the stage. To see the dancers rely on lights, vibrations on the stage floor, and visual cues were inspiring. 

I am proud to say I have been working as Thomas Warfield’s assistant to the director since fall of 2019 to help create the foundation for a dance program here at RIT.

Ann-Katherine: I started dancing at the age of four at the Griffith Academy of Dance in Wethersfield, CT, where I trained and excelled in the areas of Irish step, tap jazz, and ballet. I began competing in Irish step dancing at the age of eight and went on to have a successful career as a highly ranked competitive Irish step dancer being both a regional qualifier and a North American Irish Dance Championship Qualifier.

We were both a part of Vis Viva Dance Company and were in a showcase together where we were both featured soloists. We have met up to dance and practice together just for fun before the pandemic.

Q: Claire, how does your time at Saunders compare to your undergraduate experience at Kate Gleason College of Engineering (KGCOE)?

Claire: My undergrad experience at KGCOE was very interactive with classmates and professors alike.  Academic work was hands-on, in-person learning in the classroom followed by applied learning through extensive lab work.

Due to the pandemic, my Saunders experience has mostly been limited to interacting with classmates and professors via Zoom and email correspondence. However, Saunders has gone out of their way to adjust and accommodate to give their students the best experience possible.

Both schools are career oriented in preparing students for successful careers through work experience and academic rigor. However, in KGCOE, their focus is geared toward the technical aspect of preparation, making sure students have the tools and skills necessary to be successful. Saunders teaches the importance of building and fostering relationships with an emphasis on networking and presentation skills in order to be a successful and effective future business leader.  These two areas combined are preparing me with a well-rounded education for my future career. 

Q: Do either of you have any advice for other Saunders students?

Claire: Take advantage of the seminars and networking opportunities Saunders provides for their students. These opportunities will help identify potential career paths and help build a great professional network foundation that will have a lasting positive impact after graduation and career. 

Ann-Katherine: Early in your RIT experience, it is important to understand that you do not need to know what you want to do in your professional career. Through industry and co-op experience, you will gain greater insights, skills, and develop new fields of interest. Throughout your RIT career, make sure to join clubs, programs, and organizations you are passionate about and try your absolute best. 

About Saunders 4+1

Saunders’ Accelerated 4+1 MBA allows graduate students to achieve their MBA in a single year after completing their undergraduate degree. In addition to a faster graduation time, 4+1 students gain access to a variety of exclusive scholarships, including a minimum 20% award. For more information, check out the Saunders Accelerated 4+1 MBA page.

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All photographs taken by Miranda Joly '16 (advertising photography)