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First-Year Student Stories

Goodnight Spotlight: Constance Smith

Constance Smith, Goodnight Scholar Class of 2023, is graduating in May. Continue reading to learn about her plans after graduation and some of her most memorable experiences at NC State!

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, my name is Constance Smith. My pronouns are she/her. I’m a senior here at NC State graduating in May, majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Global Public Health. My major has a concentration in Epidemiology/Public Health. I love being a Wolfpacker, especially being from a small town, coming to NC State was like a dream come true. Some fun facts about me are that I am from Bladen County and my family are blueberry farmers. I am also a member of the Lumbee tribe, a self-proclaimed cat lady, and a proud Goodnight Scholar! Some of my interests include playing games (especially Sims), hanging out with friends, and trying new foods. 

What have been your favorite parts of the Goodnight Scholars Program?

Picking my favorite parts of the Goodnight Scholars Program is hard because there are so many. I love the opportunities we have available to us daily that include cultural and educational experiences. Some of my favorite moments include seeing Stacy Abrams speak at DPAC, taking an intro Mandarin class, professional dinners, and taking a cooking class. I love how the Goodnight Scholars Program helped me to open myself up to the college experience in ways that I wouldn’t have before. By having the program as my support system, I felt a little less alone at such a big school. Another favorite part of the program is the travel opportunities. I remember freshman year getting to travel to Boston and visiting Harvard and MIT while immersing myself in the Bostonian culture. I also got to visit Savannah, Georgia on our exciting senior trip. I am excited to be visiting Canada next month because it will be my first time traveling out of the country! With college being such a rewarding and sometimes very challenging experience, this program always provided me with the support I needed to get through. What I’ll think about the most was how the pro staff demonstrated how much they cared about us. Even if sometimes I don’t necessarily believe in myself, they never once doubted my abilities and potential.

What have been some of your most memorable experiences at NC State?

Most memorable will most definitely be pandemic. While this was a really difficult time for everybody, I think it shaped my educational career. I originally came to NC State as a biochemistry major however I changed after the COVID-19 pandemic. It was during this time that my interest in infectious diseases and public health started. I found myself looking up to the public health leaders who guided our country and our communities through that period. As a public health student Seeing how imperative these public health figures were during the pandemic helped me to truly solidify my passion for public health, specifically epidemiology. It helped me to recognize my career aspirations of becoming a thoughtful, informed leader in future public health emergencies, helping to guide critical conversations about specific actions that could save lives.

Do you have any advice you would like to give to current NC State students?

While I think college can affect and impact everybody differently, I do think that many college students struggle at different points in their journey. As a female P.O.C. from a rural area, I got hit with the “imposter syndrome” pretty hard. I always felt that I wasn’t smart enough and constantly falling behind everybody else. Being in STEM can feel very competitive and we can hold ourselves to impossible standards of perfection but I think it’s important to remember that the moments that seem so difficult, lonely, and long won’t last forever, and our mistakes don’t define us. You’re here because of the potential someone saw in you and the hard work that got you here. Remember why you wanted this and believe in yourself to take the chances that you want.

What are your plans post-graduation?

My plans post-graduation include getting my MPH in Applied Epidemiology from UNC Gillings School of Public Health. I’d like to pursue a career that involves infectious disease research and surveillance. Examining my community and other minority communities during the pandemic highlighted the inadequacy of healthcare these types of communities had long been accustomed to. Pursuing work in applied epidemiology, I want my career to specifically focus on and reach these massively underserved groups, especially during times like the pandemic. My goal is to forge a career in which I can promote underserved populations to the forefront of disease prevention and policy implementation conversations.