Antoinette Smith is an associate professor in the College of Business School of Accounting
As a professor, you bring to the table something other than your ability to do research and to teach. You bring a personal aspect. Even as a little girl starting out in low-income housing, I had the biggest ability to dream and always believed that, despite obstacles, staying positive would allow me to achieve more. As a nontraditional student with two small children and a job as a secretary, I completed my undergraduate degree at night. While working toward a master’s degree, I heard about an organization that encourages minorities to pursue a Ph.D. in business. I attended a conference, called the Ph.D. Project, on the subject and soon after applied and was accepted to several schools. Getting a Ph.D. allowed me to fully understand that the world is an ocean of knowledge into which I should continuously cast my fishing line to discover more. Today I facilitate seminars for FIU’s College of Business under a new program for undergraduates called the Ph.D. Pipeline. In any organization you want diversity, and currently minorities are severely underrepresented on the faculty of business schools across the country. Our primary message is that getting a Ph.D. is challenging but also rewarding. I believe that if you are self-disciplined and self-motivated and can persevere, you have the needed foundation. Everything else can be learned. I don’t go into class talking about my background or race. I teach the same material as everyone else, but I think seeing me gives all of my students another image of what a professor can look like and perhaps a vision of what they might achieve.