FOSSI | Meet Laila Harris-Smith: 2023 FOSSI Scholar Attending Fort Valley State University

Meet Laila Harris-Smith: 2023 FOSSI Scholar Attending Fort Valley State University

March 27, 2024

FOSSI: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello everyone! My name is Laila Harris-Smith, and I am a young African American girl that has a passion for science. This love for science started when I began attending science camp as a little girl, and I became just fascinated by the different biological and environmental processes. This passion grew as I continued my schooling, and I am looking forward to not only gaining more knowledge but helping the world with the knowledge I acquire. I am looking forward to my journey as a FOSSI scholar! 

FOSSI: Why are you passionate about pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field?

I am passionate about pursuing a degree in a STEM related field because I love science and I want to learn new things about the topic, but that is not all. I would also like to help people with the skills and knowledge I gain from my journey. I want to improve the health of others and make sure our planet is being well taken care of. I feel as though there are not enough people in high positions that care about those things, and I want to change that. I also want to increase diversity in STEM related fields and encourage others who look like me to join these types of fields. This could lead to more ideas being introduced within several industries and solving problems that have plagued society. All these things combined fuel my passion for pursuing a degree in STEM. 

FOSSI: Why is receiving the FOSSI scholarship important for you?

When I heard I received the FOSSI scholarship, I knew my life would be changed forever. First, it alleviates the financial barrier that once stood between me and my collegiate education. I will no longer have to worry about my ability to attend school all four years. Once that burden was removed, I could fully accept my admission into a school that would give me the best opportunities for my career. This scholarship will also provide mentorship and connections that will support me through this journey while awarding me with opportunities to grow in my field. I am so excited to be a FOSSI scholar and further explore what the program offers. 

FOSSI: Who is a role model that has influenced you?

A role model that has influenced me and made me into the person I am today would have to be my amazing mother. She embodies the meaning of strength, perseverance, and grace. My mother raised me by herself and over the years, I saw her go through many challenges, but she handled them all with poise and confidence. My mother is also very vibrant and attracts everyone that comes across her path.

With her leading by example, I learned that with hard work, you can achieve your goals, and to never let fear get the best of you. I have also learned that you should take every opportunity offered to you and handle every hard situation with confidence and determination. In short, my mother has influenced me to be a better person and to not let life overwhelm me, to take the reins, and make it what I want. 

FOSSI: Fast forward – where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I see myself working on my research in pharmaceuticals to create a medicine that has no side effects. I want to create medications and treatments that treat diseases without causing any unnecessary or added pain. Using my background in plant science and my master's in pharmacy, I will conduct different experiments that will hopefully lead to medicines that will improve society. I also want to own my own pharmacy so I can conduct my research while also being involved in, and connected to, the community. 

FOSSI: Share a few fun facts about yourself.

  • In my free time, I enjoy reading and hanging out with family and friends. 
  • I have two cats named Calypso and Jazz.
  • I am a HUGE Marvel fan (Spiderman is my favorite superhero).
  • I love listening to music and discovering new songs.
  • My favorite color is green.
  • My favorite genre of books is fantasy.

Hear more from Laila about why she's passionate about STEM.


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