Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Why I Chose FAMU

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Why I Chose FAMU

Article excerpt

Florida A&tM University (FAMU) is cultivating its reputation nationwide, in large measure, on the success of its science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) graduates. This reputation is part of what attracted FAMU engineering sophomores Travis Smith and Irving Jamie Scott, both of whom could have gone just about anywhere for college based upon their high SAT scores and academic records.

"I was number one in my class [and] valedictorian and everybody expected me to go somewhere else," Smith says of his Miami high school. "Most of my [White] teachers were pushing me to go to Harvard, MIT, or somewhere like that."

But having been the only African American in most of his classes throughout high school- despite the school's healthy diversity - Smith yearned for a different type of experience in college.

"I was tired of being the only one," says the chemical engineering major. He adds that his ambitions of pursuing doctoral studies at a place like MIT meant that undergraduate school would probably present his only opportunity to attend an historically Black institution.

Unlike Smith, who is a first generation college student, Scott comes from a family of college graduates. He decided he wanted to become an engineer when he was still in junior high, after hearing a neighbor's presentation on computational fluid dynamics. The neighbor was a Ph.D. mechanical engineer who worked for IBM.

"I had no clue exactly what [computational fluid dynamics] was, but it looked like an interesting job," says Scott, who is now a mechanical engineering major.

Scott's personal Web site runs a listing of the universities he was accepted to, but which he turned down in favor of FAMU. MIT, Cornell, Yale, and Howard are among them.

"It was either gonna be FAMU or Howard," he says. "Howard offered me a full ride, but FAMU offered me a full ride, plus an internship every summer, so I came here."

Scott plans to pursue a Ph.D. and may even consider returning to academe one day, but not until he has spent enough years in industry to amass a small fortune. After all, one of his reasons for choosing to pursue engineering over law-his second career choice - is the earning potential.

Smith and Scott are both recipients of FAMU's "Life Gets Better Scholarship," a four-year tuition and housing scholarship that provides recipients with paid internships for three summers with a Fortune 500 company. …

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