FOSSI: Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Ava Flanigan, and I am enrolled in the Dual Degree Engineering Program at Spelman College where I will be majoring in chemistry, and later on, chemical engineering at a participating engineering school. I was a dual-enrolled student at Clayton State University, where I garnered my Associate of Science. I was also honored with the title of Valedictorian of my graduating class and the PAGE Star student of my high school.
I'm from metro Atlanta (Morrow to be exact). I've lived there all my life, and that has definitely had an effect on my outlook on the world. I noticed that many of the young people in my community do not have the resources to properly pursue and formulate a love for STEM. To combat this, I plan to give back to my community by implementing STEM programs for the youth that will not only help them solidify a love for STEM but also grow an appreciation for the community and cultivate confidence in themselves.
FOSSI: Why are you passionate about pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field?
I've always been extremely interested in technology and putting things together. I would craft my own doll houses and furniture if I didn't have them, and I would even make some of my doll's clothes if I felt like they needed an outfit change. Essentially, I have always had an appreciation for STEM and I've always felt connected to it.
As I got older, I became more interested in cosmetics, including hair and body products. I began tracking the ingredients of the products I used and noticed that many of them were not sustainable or healthy for human bodies. Thus, I decided that I should dip my toes into the cosmetic industry myself and try to make products catered to Black people that would not only be safe for the environment, but also safe and non-irritating for consumers. I hope that my career will be empowering to young Black girls who want to pursue STEM.
FOSSI: Who is a role model that has influenced you?
My mother has always had a great influence on me. Watching her take life into her own hands and break the mold she was put into has empowered me to do the same. Whether she knows it or not, her headstrong attitude and her way of always making things happen has inspired me and encouraged me to do the same.
She would tell me to always think for myself and to be a confident leader, which has also had a major effect on me. I believe that without her always guiding me to think critically and to do things for myself, I wouldn't be where I am today. I genuinely appreciate and love her. I love you, mom!
FOSSI: Share a few fun facts about yourself.
- I taught myself how to sew at the age of eight.
- I was a part of the Disney Dreamers class of 2023.
- I enjoy hair care and braiding my own hair.
- I love Spanish and plan to become fluent in the language.
- I like to sing and appreciate every genre of music (yes, including country).
Hear more from Ava about why she's excited to receive the FOSSI scholarship.
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