FOSSI | Keeping up with 2021 FOSSI Scholar Liya Taylor

Keeping up with 2021 FOSSI Scholar Liya Taylor

April 10, 2024

Liya Taylor received the FOSSI scholarship in 2021 and is a junior studying computer science at Hampton University. Her FOSSI corporate sponsor is FMC, a proud supporter of the program who has mentored Liya from the start of her college experience.   

Alicia Thomas, change impact specialist at FMC, says the program brings value to both the students and the company. “Mentorship in FOSSI has the potential to take FMC to a new level regarding diversity, equity and inclusion,” added Alicia. “The scholars are already pursuing STEM-focused career paths, but our partnership introduces them to corporate careers in STEM and industries that they may not have considered before. Mentors are crucial in bridging the gap on what the opportunities look like and how to best navigate the landscape.”

During a recent video call, Liya and Alicia reflected on the FOSSI program, Liya’s time as a FOSSI Scholar with FMC, and the benefits of mentorship. 

How did you first learn about the FOSSI program, and what made you interested in it?

My mom was adamant about applying for scholarships before college. She was always forwarding me emails and connecting with other parents about various scholarships. She was the one who helped me find FOSSI. I was attracted to the scholarship for renewability and the amount that they provided. Renewability is an important factor because it relieves the stress that comes with having to scramble every year to apply for different scholarships. 

What specific projects are you currently working on as a FOSSI Scholar, and how do they align with your STEM interests?

I am currently a research assistant for one of my professors. I am assisting her with conducting research for NASA’s hypersonic division, where I am focused on using machine learning to anticipate the transition states. This aligns with my major, cybersecurity computer science, by using my knowledge in programming languages (specifically Python) to assist me with creating machine learning algorithms. 

How has mentorship and the opportunity to engage with professionals in STEM careers been valuable to you? 

Mentorship has been extremely valuable for me because I am always open to learning and bettering myself. With you as my mentor, I am able to talk about my personal, educational, and career issues. Having a mentor has also allowed me to collaborate with other individuals in my desired career field.

I has also given me multiple opportunities to speak with Paula Kozak, a cybersecurity professional at FMC. In my conversations with Paula, I asked questions about her day-to-day work, certifications, potential internships, and interviewing. Both you and Paula have provided me with valuable insights throughout my sponsorship with FMC.

What insights on the industry have you gained through your exposure to FMC, and how has this knowledge influenced your perspective on your field of study? 

Through my conversations with Paula, I have been able to gain a better understanding of how cybersecurity is implemented within FMC. I’ve learned about what the cybersecurity team does, the various phishing campaigns they produce, and how they spread cybersecurity awareness. I’ve also learned about the growth and importance of the cloud, whether that be through cloud storage or cloud computing. I’ve learned that many companies are transitioning to cloud platforms, thus increasing the need for cybersecurity. 

How does having a partner like FMC benefit you and other FOSSI scholars?

Having partners like FMC not only helps reduce the financial strain on FOSSI scholars, but also opens doors to unexpected opportunities like internships and co-ops in the agriculture industry and other industries.

How do you envision the future of the FOSSI program?

I see FOSSI turning their virtual webinars into in-person events, allowing STEM scholars to meet each other face to face, and creating an even better community for the next generation. Also, I see FOSSI granting even more scholarships with help from companies like FMC!

We invite companies not currently supporting FOSSI to build their pipeline of outstanding and diverse talent by supporting a FOSSI scholar. Learn more.