I was raised by my grandparents in a rural town in Mississippi. Both of my grandparents, along with my younger sister, suffered from congenital eye conditions that left them legally blind. As the only person in the household with unimpaired vision, I was responsible for handling many aspects of our lives from a young age. Aiding my family in many of the most mundane of daily tasks fells to me. This responsibility delayed me from pursuing higher education after high school. In 2014, at the age of 20, I began studying at USM but withdrew after only one semester due to family hardships. I regretted this decision and was determined to return to college, so in 2018, I reapplied and began my second attempt at earning a bachelor's degree.
Hoping to make the most of this rare opportunity, upon my return, I decided to pursue an especially challenging degree in Polymer Science and Engineering. As a child, I was never the most gifted in science and did not think I had the intellectual capabilities to pursue a career in STEM. However, after returning, I was able to build a strong foundation in mathematics and chemistry, and – most importantly – discover my love of research. The circuitous path that led me to where I am academically continues to inspire my journey to become a research scientist.