Kiara Gomez '14
Name & Class Year: Kiara Gomez, 2014
Hometown: Astoria, New York
High School: High School for Health Professions and Human Services
Minor: Marine Sciences
Campus Activities: Mellon Mays Fellowship, Honors Thesis in Geosciences with Sara Pruss, Swimming and Diving, Geology Club, Residence Life Coordinator for House Events
Last Movie Seen in Theaters: Grown-Up in Athens, Greece
Favorite Movie: Star Trek
Favorite Song: Todo Cambio, by Camila
Smith House: Duckett House
Last Book Read: Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
Favorite Book: The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Hobbies/Interests: Traveling around the world, triathlons, hiking, swimming, teaching, learning
Favorite Place on Campus: The Cave, Sabin Reed 106
Favorite Campus Dining Location Chase-Duckett
Favorite Quote: "Do what you feel in your heart to be right— for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't." —Eleanor Roosevelt
Fondest Smith Memory So Far: There are many Smith memories that have shaped me throughout the years I have been here. One of these memories is getting the opportunity to travel to San Salvador, the Bahamas to collect essential data for a project that turned into my Honors Thesis project. Although my advisor was unable to go due to a maternal leave, I was given the option to go with a field assistant and emeritus professor Al Curran. Working in the field without direct guidance was frustrating at times and I constantly questioned whether I was doing the right thing. By the end of this trip, however, I found that I had grown as an individual and a scientist. Here was where I learned how to be efficient, resourceful, and critical.
Another fond Smith memory is participating in the Global Engagement Seminar: From Labyrinth to Parthenon: Greek Myth and History in their Geological Context. This was a unique seminar, lead by professors John Brady and Scott Bradbury, which allowed students to learn about the history and culture of Ancient Greece while exploring the geology of the Greek islands and mainland. This program also incorporated a 6-week internship in different disciplines. My internship took place at the Museum of Mineralogy and Petrography, the University of Athens, where I analyzed and cataloged a set of minerals. This amazing opportunity was such a great learning experience because as a hard sciences student, I hadn't had the opportunity to study history before. During this intensive seminar, however, I discovered that I enjoyed art history and classical studies because it allowed me to deeply appreciate the Greek culture throughout its history. I also further developed my skills as a geologist throughout my time as an intern.
Where did you grow up and what was life like there?
Most of my childhood was spent in two neighborhoods of Queens, NYC. I was very fortunate to grow up in the predominately Colombian neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens, New York City. Jackson Heights is a national historic district and one of the first garden city communities built in the United States. It was the perfect neighborhood to be in until I was six years old because I was surrounded by my culture and traditions. I moved to the predominantly Greek neighborhood of Astoria when I was in third grade. Growing up in this neighborhood was great because it has an accessible train that I could take to Manhattan, a beautiful park overlooking Manhattan, and great cafes and restaurants throughout the area! Although I am from NYC, I must say that I love nature and the wilderness as much as I love skyscrapers and crowded places!
How did you discover Smith?
I discovered Smith while looking into other women's colleges. As a first generation student, I had a hard time trying to figure out the college application process, but I was very open in terms of my options. To be honest, I did not know the value of women's colleges until I was actually in one.
What were your first impressions of the College? Do you find they're still true today?
My first impressions of Smith were that I was not going to survive the first semester. I soon began to realize that I was at Smith for a reason and that I belonged here just as much as every other amazing Smithie. I believe every Smithie is a pioneer and a leader in their own way and this environment has motivated me to be the best person that I could be.
What was high school like? Who inspired you?
I went through two high schools that were the direct opposite of each other. One of them, Robert F. Wagner Secondary School, was a very small school located in Long Island City comprised of about 600 students in grades 7-12. Although I attended Wagner for my freshman year, I discovered my love for science through my general science teacher. My sophomore, junior and senior years were spent in High School for Health Professions and Human Services in Manhattan. This school had more 1700 students in grades 9-12, more than double that of Wagner. This high school will always be in my heart because it was a place surrounded by teachers and faculty that believed in me and in my future success. Here is where I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were through many mistakes, found many of my close friends who accepted me for who I am, challenged myself by joining the school's track team as runner and a javelin thrower, further developed my love for science research, and succeeded in becoming one the few students who went to Smith College on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my teachers there, especially my science research teacher and one of the school deans. These were the people who inspired and motivated me to get through high school through some of the toughest times of my life. Without their immense support, I would have never even applied to Smith College.
What Smith professors, coaches or advisors have inspired you?
My success at Smith College is directly linked to every professor that has taken time out of their very busy schedules to help and advise me. I am deeply grateful to be a part of such a supportive community like the Geosciences department because professors have helped me, in one way or another, in attaining my goals. I consider myself lucky to have Sara Pruss as my research advisor because she has supported and pushed me through my extreme highs and lows; she is the person who consistently challenges me into think critically and analytically by asking me what my thoughts are and how I arrive to certain conclusions.
I believe the same goes for coaches. During the times that I have needed support and a motivational speech, Christopher St Onge, coach of the Smith Rugby team, has always been the person to deliver it and I am deeply thankful for that.
What are your plans after Smith?
I am currently applying for the MIT-Woods Hole PhD joint program in chemical oceanography. I would love to be able to find answers and solutions to many of the environmental issues that we will be facing in the future. I also plan to continue volunteering my time as a mentor to high school students.
What perspective would you share with alumnae?
Without the Smith Fund, I do not think I would have been able to participate in the many opportunities that Smith College has offered me. Each opportunity has nurtured me and helped me become the person I am today: a leader, mentor, student, athlete, etc. Each time I hear the amazing stories of alumnae, I am reminded of how blessed I am to be a Smithie. The donations that Smith alumnae give to the college have made it possible for me to attend such a prestigious school like Smith College. The opportunity that Smith College has given me is one that I will hold in my heart because it has changed my life.