By: La-Toya Scott
While doing my usual routine of scrolling through Facebook I came across a picture of this beautiful black woman throwing her graduation cap in the air. I recognized that place, for I had performed the same graduation ritual at Westcott Fountain 3 years prior. Although, it was a wonderful image to take in which filled me with a welcomed sense of nostalgia, it was the bold caption that especially captured my attention for moments then after. It read:
"You are looking at THE FIRST BLACK PERSON TO GRADUATE FROM THE BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE PhD PROGRAM AT FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY (MY SISTER Lataisia C Jones)!! HBCU BRED #VSU #ROOTS #FSU#SEMINOLES .. This is a big deal so dont let anyone minimize it sis. All of the long nights of studying, moving 12 hours from home, presenting research, attending conferences all over, getting published, and spending holidays and birthday in the lab really paid off sissy! #PhinisheD"
It is definitely a reminder that in this day in age Black People have still yet to reach a vast amount of goals because of the barriers placed in our paths due to our elevated levels of melanin. We are still chipping at multiple glass ceilings striving to break through. Thus, when you read the words, "The First Black..." anything preceeding any accomplishment it still freezes you for a moment as a person of color.
As someone that is a FSU Alumna, and was a prior science major at this same exact Predominately White Institution (PWI) I felt this woman's accomplishment as not only a victory for all of us (especially black women) but, a reminder of how important it is to see a reflection of yourself in any pursued field of study. That in and of itself is a powerful image which deserves to be commended.
When I reached out this morning to Dr. Lataisia C. Jones I had to ask her one question.
"What advice would you give students of color that want to pursue a degree in the sciences but, think they are not bright enough or good enough to do so because it's a field lacking representation?"
This month a milestone was reached and is dually noted because it proves that we are still making steps in our history, and controlling the narrative in which we can be a vehicle for change and hope for those to come. We can do more than just excel; we can and will achieve. With that said congratulations Doctor. Jones, and thank you for sharing.