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Turning Scholarships into Job Opportunities

Atlanta, GA

Alahna Smith discovered she wanted to be an engineer at the age of eight. For five years, her mom enrolled her in a National Society of Black Engineers summer program for young students in Washington D.C.  From there, Smith continued pursuing her interests at an engineering magnet school, where she found her introduction into the field. Now she’s a second-year electrical engineering student at Georgia Tech and a Clark Scholar taking advantage of internship opportunities just outside D.C.

A Memorable Internship

Last summer, Smith received an opportunity to intern at IvySys Technologies where they coordinated a project specifically for her centered around creating metrics to detect disinformation campaigns on social media. During her internship, Smith also learned how to use data extraction tools to analyze trends in social media data. She was tasked with using ‘R software’ to organize and analyze such data to create labeled metadata that would serve as thresholds for disinformation detection. 

“Before my internship, I was unaware of the impact disinformation campaigns have on our society,” said Smith. “I love how my time at IvySys not only enriched my engineering experience and knowledge but also made me more aware of influencers, so I’m now less susceptible to them.” 

Choosing Tech

In high school, Smith’s top choice was Georgia Tech because of its national ranking, location and diversity. So, when she received the call from the A. James Clark Scholars Program the day before admissions' decision day, her choice was even more clear. The Clark Scholars Program is dedicated to financially supporting students who exhibit strong academic and leadership potential, creating engineers of the future. Smith was a part of the introductory 2018 cohort of the Georgia Tech Clark Scholars Program, and she is paving the way for many students like her. 

“When you come to a school like Tech where you feel like everyone is so smart, I came in feeling a little bit scared, and now, I am starting to notice myself letting that go,” said Smith. “My Clark peers helped me so much. We are literally a big, happy family.”

Along with the community the Clark Scholars Program brings, Smith has been exposed to many leadership and networking events.  In her first year at Georgia Tech, Smith was given the opportunity to attend the Engineering Alumni Banquet where she was able to make connections and secure the internship she completed this past summer. 

“Having the hands-on engineering work at my summer internship at IvySys, while being mentored by Georgia Tech alumni in the process, was an amazing experience that allowed me to explore my future career and the possibilities that await,” said Smith. 

While Smith is still quite a way from graduating, she looks forward to being able to use her leadership skills and electrical engineering know-how to pursue some passion projects.

“I am hoping Tech will continue to push me out of my shell, and I will be able to start pursuing some of my own projects.”

Last revised January 30, 2020