Ever since Kia Smith was a young girl, she was always curious about what type of career path she would ultimately pursue. Like many young people, her interests changed regularly; however, these changes were often influenced by those closest to her. She had no idea what career path she wanted to take until she had an enlightening conversation with her older cousin, who is currently in the pharmaceutical research field. That conversation was only the beginning of the many scenarios that Kia would encounter, helping spark her interest in research. Her passion for exploration has been a key factor in her wanting to become a field researcher. Additionally, just like MES, she wants to later start a mentor program for middle and high school students so that they could receive an insight on careers in research. Until then, she focuses on finding the type of research she would like best.
According to Eleanor Roosevelt, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Experiences tend to help shape one’s life. For Kia, the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars did just that. Kia is originally from Lithonia, Georgia but decided to continue her education at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. During her sophomore year at Dillard University, Kia participated in a research program under LS- Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LS-LAMP). She worked in a biology lab where she conducted research on the microbial contamination on fresh produce, examining different bacteria nested on fruits and vegetables. In short, her goal was to see the extent of contamination on fresh produce depending on the source of each individual product. Kia used her research experience at Dillard as a foundation for other research opportunities such as the MES Internship Program. Through the LS-LAMP program, Kia attended a job fair and had the opportunity to become acquainted with Pre-College University’s (PCU) executive director, Clarence Brown, about the missions of the organization and the purpose of the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars. Kia viewed this opportunity and interaction as a blessing and decided to allow the Pre- College University and the U.S. Department of Energy help expand her knowledge on environmental science. Kia’s intern site was Savannah State University where she conducted five different environmental research projects. This summer’s internship experience and her growing interest in environmental sciences has propelled her with the desire to conduct more environmental research projects in the future. She says her experience with the Department of Energy Mentorship for Environmental Scholars Program was a memorable one and she recommends it for individuals of all majors. She is very thankful to be given the opportunity to build valuable relationships and experience such vast personal growth. Kia Smith is ecstatic to be a part of the Mentorship for Environmental Scholars’ family!