I am Smith

Laisha Aniceto

About Laisha

Class of 2023

Phoenix, Arizona

Speech and Language Sciences, Spanish

Intern, First Gen Out Loud (FGOL)

Sophomore Liaison, CLIFS (Community for Low-Income and First-Gen Students)

Latin American Students’ Organization (LASO)

The Sophian Translation Team

Scholarship Recipient

Why did you want to come to Smith?
My host for Discovery Weekend and my future colleagues were the most influential factors when deciding on Smith as my second home. When I reflected on this experience, some questions caught me by surprise: How could it be that a stranger I had just met a couple of hours ago made me feel like a family member? How was it possible that people I met for only 72 hours were still keeping in contact with me as my mentors? But most importantly, how can I grow and become that person to someone in the future? This was the community I wanted to learn from and to be a part of: a welcoming, strong and independent community.

What has financial aid meant to you and your family?
It is a blessing! I have the opportunity to focus on my studies, exams or projects, instead of worrying about working an eight-hour shift. Not to mention, my younger sibling and I are one year apart, and he was also about to begin college. Like many others during the pandemic, my family faced a lot of uncertainty, and knowing I had this scholarship saved my family from financial burdens. Without this generous scholarship, I would not have been able to attend Smith.

Who has had the most impact on your life?
“Don't sleep too late. Don’t worry about waking me up; call me when you can. You add one cup of rice and cinnamon sticks. Never stop learning, Mija; that’s the biggest advice I can give to you.” These small phrases of encouragement, support, sacrifice and love from my mom keep me going. Though I am 2,588 miles away from her, she answers my calls at 5 a.m., teaches me how to cook my favorite homemade meals over the phone and gives me one last burst of motivation to get through finals.

“In my hometown, a high school diploma is the highest degree completed by most individuals. Because of financial aid, I have been able to break this barrier...”

Which faculty or staff member stands out for you?
I joined a program called First Gen Out Loud (FGOL), which is a community-building and leadership development program for first-year, first-generation students. This was where I met Jessica Bacal, the director of FGOL and The Narratives Project. I learned about resources available to first-gen students at Smith. I learned a lot about myself and grew throughout the program. And I received a lot of love from Jess and my first-gen cohort. Jess was always one call away if we needed help with obtaining winter clothes, if we needed a second opinion, if we needed to reach alumni or if we just needed time to vent. In short, Jess is like a second mom to many of us in the FGOL program.

Why should donors support financial aid?
In my hometown, a high school diploma is the highest degree completed by most individuals. Because of financial aid, I have been able to break this barrier, this cycle, and I inspired high schoolers in my community to do the same. This scholarship has opened a whole new world not only for me and my family, but for other students who were also told that college was an impossible dream.

Contact Us

To make an endowed gift or to learn more about supporting financial aid at Smith, please contact Betsy Carpenter ’93, associate vice president for development, at 413-585-2052 or ewcarpen@smith.edu.