SWE Scholar Shares: Samantha Smith
Samantha Smith is a SWE scholarship recipient & Princeton University undergraduate. She shares her incredible journey from Nigeria to Texas to Princeton.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Scholarship Recipient
Princeton University Undergraduate
Hometown: Bellaire, Texas by way of Lagos, Nigeria
Having lived in Lagos, Nigeria and Houston, Texas, diversity and unity are two principles I hold close to my heart. In college, I hope to combine my interests in math, science, and recreation in a way that benefits others through the study of chemical engineering.
I first developed an interest in chemical engineering, while working on a golf course. Working my way around the course and learning to judge different trajectories, surfaces, undulations, and spin inadvertently pushed me to think like an engineer. I was a bit perplexed as to how an industry that harvests such a large amount of money was not looking to capitalize on its best resources: water, sun, and moving bodies.
My goal is to use the resources available to me in college to create more practical and efficient ways to harvest energy from natural resources. For example, I picture golf carts that don’t solely run on gasoline, clubhouse lights that shine from the power of solar energy, and water hazards that power irrigation systems. I see myself working on new thermochemical and biochemical pathways to renewable liquid biofuels and also examining how they perform. By making new materials for hydrogen storage and for electrocatalysis and doing fundamental and applied research related to electrochemical systems for energy storage conservation, I believe I will bring a unique perspective not only to bettering the game that I love, but also to communities as a whole.
Beyond taking required engineering courses, I will study philosophy. In my quest to grow, I hope to understand the more complex facets of an optimally functioning and just society. Though the world is expanding, it feels as though we are growing closer; I see a great opportunity to capitalize on informational advancements in the fields of STEM research. After college, I plan to work abroad; I want to facilitate positive cross-cultural interrelations. Specifically, I hope to do non-profit work, assisting in the development of energy systems in developing countries. With a broader perspective on uses for energy systems, I believe I will become a better engineer.
More about how Samantha got into an Ivy League school from CNN Money:
Schools accepted to: Princeton, Penn, Northwestern, Washington University in Saint Louis, Georgetown, Bucknell, University of Richmond, University of Pittsburgh, UT Austin, and Baylor
Background: “I grew up in Lagos and moved to Texas when I was in kindergarten. I wrote one of my college essays about my experiences in Lagos and coming to America. I wrote about going onto the bus and having a guy with an AK-47 on there with us. And I remember when I came to the U.S. and saw a grocery store for the first time. I completely freaked out.”
How I did it: “I think what set me apart is that I play varsity golf. I’ve played for 12 years. My dad got me into it when we came here. He liked the values of golf. He wanted us to learn how to win and lose. I also crochet. I sew infinity scarves and sell them on Etsy. I just started selling them and I’ve sold about 70. I’ve been making them since fifth grade.”
Test scores and grades: “I have all As. By the end of this year I’ll have 14 AP credits. I don’t get much sleep but I like what I’m doing so it’s okay. I didn’t have the best test scores. I got a 2120 on my SAT. I applied to 11 colleges. I got into 10. I didn’t get into Harvard.”