CSUN graduate student answers National Geographic’s “provocative questions”

A CSUN Marine Biology graduate student, Taylorann Smith, is among the diverse and accomplished women answering "six provocative questions" in a feature for National Geographic. In response to "What’s the greatest hurdle you’ve overcome," Smith cites her experience with poverty growing up, and the challenge of pursuing her interest in marine biology from her hometown of Chicago.

Being raised by a single mother with no involvement of my father was really challenging. I grew up watching my mom struggle to pay bills and to feed my sister and I, but we never went without her love. Poverty and homelessness were two experiences I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but they made me a stronger person. Growing up near Chicago, I never got to study the ocean like I dreamt of, until I received a scholarship to study at the Duke University Marine Lab for a semester. I conducted independent research, made connections, and grew as a scientist. I never thought someone like me could do all of those things!

Responses to the six questions come from an array of other scientists, activists, and entrepreneurs, including Jane Goodall, Tarana Burke, Emma Gonzalez, and Oprah Winfrey.