Interview With An ILAC Intern
Updated: Jan 14
Briyana Carter: Aspiring Makeup Artist, Chemist, Business Owner, and Professor
Interviewee: Briyana Carter (BC)
Interviewee: Myra James (MJ)
MJ: Tell me a little about your experience as an ILAC Intern.
BC: I would love to just continue going. It has been a really good experience. I think overall the flexibility is perfect because as a student we have classes, lab, jobs and I can go to this as I need to. As long as I get it done it’s okay. I really like that and [I like] the communication as well.
(MJ): How has CAN ILAC help you achieve your goals?
(BC): Extra accountability because you have accountability from yourself, you have accountability from your professors, and accountability from LSAMP Scholars. This is just another form of accountability because each person can give accountability in a different way. Having it from... mentors or somebody you will be in the future like LSAMP Alum gives you another perspective and extra help for making sure that you get to your goals.
(MJ): What’s been your favorite part about the ILAC Intern Program?
(BC): Being able to connect with other students because we are small in numbers sometimes when it comes to each individual university, but when you put us together we are a large group of students.
(MJ): Have you been to an in person IINSPIRE LSAMP Annual conference?
(BC): [Yes.] That was amazing. It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of science. It was beautiful, the word I want to use is beautiful. I think for me, being able to witness that, being able to walk around to the different posters and think in my head, “Wow, I hope that’s me one day” and now look tomorrow I have my first poster presentation.
Today I was looking at my poster like wow, I am so proud of you…being a black woman in STEM, society doubts me, I doubt me sometimes because of it so it’s nice to actually see it in the blood and flesh... Seeing the work I’ve put in on a poster. It’s crazy to think a poster would make someone so happy.
(MJ): What advice would you give yourself as a freshman starting out?
(BC): Do your homework, sit in your room, and don’t come out till it’s done.
(MJ): Any advice for those transferring and those getting used to new schools?
(BC): The first two times I did it wrong, the third time I did it right. Wrong as in, I did not get involved on campus. I allowed myself to struggle on my own without using the resources provided to me for free. So when I had questions I didn't go to get them answered, I just tried to figure it out myself. And in the long run that bit me because then I ended up being somewhere I didn't want to be and couldn't afford it all because I didn't ask [a] simple question…
Now this time at UNI, I found LSAMP, I found Trio. I found all the different groups and organizations that I needed to be in. I'm a mentor on campus. I got involved, I got into communities and area[s] where I knew I was going to be taken care[d] of. So I feel like I have [a] community. Being here has really been refreshing... [a] go for me. Even when things have been hard [and] stressful, no matter what I know I can get a tutor, get help from a classmate, there’s always some[one] there to be helpful.
(MJ): Who is your support system?
(BC): Myself and God first and foremost, cause most of the talking I do is to God. Gotta talk to myself and talk to God, if you don’t do that it ain't going to be right. Outside of that, my mother, she’s here when she can be. She does that best that she can and I thank her for that. She [doesn't] don’t know much about science and what I'm doing, but she still tries to support me in any way and that makes me feel good [and] that no matter what I know that she cares.
Then I have two best friends, Cierra and Alexis. That's it, that's all I need. I got two food friends that are always there for me and keep me accountable when I'm like “I ain’t trying to do this homework.” [And they're like:]
Like, “Girl ain’t you trying to be a scientist?”
"Ain’t you trying to be the rich friend of us?, Come on now.”
"We done see[n] you work too hard for your dreams.”
And then [I have] my elders, got my advisor here: Dr. Coon and Dr. Hyilton, If [it were] not for Dr. Hyilton, I don’t know what I'd be doing. I have to thank her everyday for the rest of my life for the love that she has shown me.
(MJ): Who do you look up to and why?
(BC): So there's this woman [(Dr. Elissia Franklin]), and I listen to her podcast [(The Researcher Her]). She's a scientist from Chicago and I just went to the 2021 STEMNoire Conference, which is a conference for Black women in STEM. It was a beautiful conference online/virtual [that occurs] at the end of June and that was the best conference ever. I look up to Elissia Franklin, her podcast is dope.
She just got her PhD and I just love how real she is, how raw she is and she understands her purpose. I’m one of those people that needed to be in her podcast, I needed to hear her podcast. It really gave me motivation on the days I was having imposter syndrome, like dang can I do this? Am I really set out to do this? [It's awesome] listening to her and listening to her interview other black women just doing it.
(MJ): What motivates you?
(BC): The future, knowing what I'm working for, knowing my goal, knowing the end goal. Being able to see myself traveling the world living life, having fun knowing that my degree will get me there. Knowing that my hard work will get me the job I have desired. That's what motivates me. Knowing what I have to look forward to after I've put in this hard work.
(MJ): Do you have a specific job title or company in mind?
(BC): We live in a society where you pick one thing as your job: your one career, and you stick with that for the rest of your life. That's just your thing. I don’t really believe in that. I want to do everything. I’ve always loved beauty, I would love to be a make-up artist. I am currently a freelance make-up artist. I don’t do it often but... here pretty soon I'm going to start going again.
I would also love to be a chemist that makes the make-up, putting my own make-up that I made on people... that would be dope. I would love to be a business owner and make my own business. And last but not least , I like to teach. I'd like to be a professor, and share my story and my journey and be able to help and motivate other students and young adults to continue to follow their dreams.
(MJ): How are you sending the elevator back down? (Giving back to the community)
(BC): I want to have a scholarship that's giving young black girls like myself the opportunity to get science degrees. I don't want to look at your GPA, I don't know what you’ve been through. And for me, my GPA is not a good reflection of who I am as a student. I’m so thankful that I've had people in my life to recognize like, yes you are a lot more intelligent than that GPA would say, and I appreciate y’all for noticing that.
People go through things and sometimes it is really hard to balance school with everything else that you have going on in your life. I would love to have a scholarship that provides money, because that has always been the issue for me. I'm sitting here trying to balance having money in my pocket, food to eat and doing well in my studies. If I can at least take away one of those barriers, [I'll be able] to take that burden off of someone else.
Bryiana Carter is a senior at University of Northern Iowa and ILAC’s first Intern. Briyana offers insight into her life and advice for current BiPOC students.
Myra James is the CEO of ILAC.
Myra studied mechanical engineering at Iowa State University.
Edited by, Norbaya Jameela Durr