"Alabama Scholarships for Service, Not Just Grades"

2023 Graduate Scholars

Scarlett Lara-Alacantara

Undergraduate: UAB 

Bachelor’s Degree: International Studies and Spanish Literature 

Undergraduate Graduation Date: April 29, 2017

Graduate Degree: Juris Doctorate (Summa Cum Laude) 

Post-Grad Position: Shipman & Goodwin LLP (1st-year associate – Hartford, CT) 

Noah Estus

Noah Estus Graduation 2023

2014 Smith Scholar Initiate from Oakman, AL

2018 University of Montevallo Graduate- BS Biochemistry and Minor in Mathematics, Magna cum laude

2021 Samford University- BS Pharmaceutical Sciences, Summa cum laude and Ro Chi

2023 Samford University Graduate- Pharm.D., With honors

2023-2024 Viva Health Managed Care Pharmacy Residency- Birmingham, Alabama 

“Without the Smith Foundation I would be myself, nothing more and nothing less, but with Smith I achieved more than I ever dreamed of ❤️. I love my Smith Family and am thankful for my opportunities!”

Noah Estus

Aspiring Success 

Michael Foster Gregory

“I am a 2016 recipient of the scholarship. I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2020 with a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Political Science. I graduated from Emory University School of Law in 2023 after a transient year at the Vanderbilt University School of Law. I will be working at McAngus, Goudelock, and Courie in their Nashville office after I take the bar in July.”

Paris Nelson

After I graduated from UM and compled an internship abroad where I landed $200,000 in grants for STEM Education and Environmental Education programs with Boeing- Italy I went to the University of Kentucky to pursue my MA in Instructional Communication.

My undergraduate research interest in the experiences and challenges of first-generation college students propelled me to continue my studies of first-gen experiences at UK. After graduating, I spent two years working in higher education access and support at Eastern Kentucky University in both Admissions and TRiO SSS. My love for social impact work and grant funded projects led me to explore options across the U.S. and inevitably landed me in Washington State. 

In 2022, WSU Vancouver was awarded two new TRiO Talent Search grants and relocated me to SW Washington where I now serve as the Director of the TRiO Talent Search Programs at WSU Vancouver. I now work closely within the community in many capacities. I serve as a board member for Fourth Plain Forward. Fourth Plain Forward supports strengthening and growing small businesses, creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, improving the corridor’s safety and appearance, and promoting equitable and inclusive development along the Fourth Plain Corridor of Vancouver. As TRiO Director and a FPF Board Member I collaborate with a number of groups including the City of Vancouver and BIPOC community organizations to bring equity to education access for corridor residents- even serving on the City of Vancouver Investment Strategy Committee for the Fourth Plain for All project where we grapple with the challenge of spending $25 million of federal funding received through the American Rescue Plan Act for the project. 

My passion for this works stems from my own lived experience. I was the first in my family to even complete a high school diploma, much less go on to get a masters. TRiO programs brought me to where I am today (I am a 3-time alum: TRiO Talent Search, Student Support Services, McNair) and have dedicated my career to social impact work that elevates education equity. 

Samantha Banks

2010You majored in What?

Smith Scholarship Senior Samm Banks Proves That You are What Makes Your Major Relevant

The economic difficulties of recent years have adults asking college students more than ever “what are you going to do with that,” especially when it comes to less vocational degrees. Samm Banks (2010 recipient) knows this all too well. She is soon to graduate with a degree in American Studies from University of Alabama.“ I spend a lot of time shrugging when people ask what I’m going to do with it, or giving witty comebacks like ‘hang it on the wall, of course,’” says Banks. “The truth is interdisciplinary research can be applied to many jobs—it’s just up to me to show how.”

It is true that many job-makers of the world care more about passion, professional competence and experience than the program of study that you chose. According to a 2013 survey by internships.com 66% of employers believe “interview performance and relevant work experience are the most important factors in hiring decisions—far more important than strong academic performance.” The challenge for students,while they are enrolled, is to make those programs of study relevant by how they use the knowledge outside of the classroom. For example, Samm recently completed an internship at the Children’s Hands-On Museum of Tuscaloosa, which melded her love for obscure facts and trivia with a desire to connect with people, in this case children. Her area of expertise during this 10-week internship became nocturnal animals. She is also employed as a work study assistant in the American Studies department.SammBanksatCHOM_large

Samm is on track to start the master’s program next fall, where she will continue to develop expertise in pedagogy and culture. “I’m watchful of my potential career paths—I am nurturing them—at the same time, I still believe there is a place for multi-disciplinary learning. If our age has taught us anything, it’s that we need to learn to adapt our skills.” She adds “Meanwhile, the Smith Scholarship experience has also taught me that you need to embrace yourself before you can apply yourself—so, no matter what, I’ll be doing something that I care about.”

Samm attributes her proactive attitude to her close relationships with our mentor staff and her Smith siblings, who she says “encouraged me to adapt to opportunities and let my guard down about sheer survival.”

Check out Samm on the University of Alabama Department of American Studies internship page.