As the Founder and Executive Director of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. (SEM Link), I’m in awe that the nonprofit organization that I started in 2005 that served one middle school in Atlanta, Georgia has transitioned into national nonprofit organization that has served thousands of youth in Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. It is a rewarding and humbling experience to see the vision that I had of exposing kids to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and STEM careers by connecting them with the STEM community come to pass and expand each year. It is vision too big for me to accomplish alone; therefore I am thankful to our current and former staff and members of our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, corporate partners and funders, donors, volunteers and community partners that helped me achieve our vision of “unveiling potential through exposure”. I am also thankful to the K-12 students, parents and educators that have participated in our programs and attended our events.
I have been asked several times by various people what is my inspiration for starting and continuing the work of SEM Link. The first thing is a conversation that I had with my late grandmother Mrs. Charlie Bell Smith while attending Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). She told me that she was proud of me for majoring in chemical engineering because her favorite and best subject in high school was chemistry. In a different time and circumstances, my grandmother would have made a brilliant chemist. The second thing that inspires me when I look at the photos from our program activities and see youth interacting with the STEM community; it seems like both the youth and the volunteers are having a blast. My entire career has been devoted to enhancing the educational experiences for youth and young adults with a special emphasis in STEM. It is my goal to remove any barriers that will prevent youth from being all they desire and can be; specifically those connected to exposure and having positive adult role models.
When I graduated from FAMU in 2001 I decided not pursue a traditional career path in chemical engineering but to pursue one that would make a difference in the lives of others; that was the best decision I have ever made. Over the course of my career, especially since founding SEM Link I have seen the difference my work has made not only the lives of youth but those who volunteer for our organization; especially those who volunteer for our programs. I ask that you allow the work of SEM Link to continue by supporting us by making a financial contribution, volunteering, supporting our programs and events and connecting with us via social media and our email list.
Tokiwa T. Smith
Founder and Executive Director