Hard work pays off for USF researcher

Emmanuel Smith did not plan to become a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida (USF) during his undergraduate years. It took him four years to finish a two-year degree.

For fun, Smith asks people to guess his GPA when he was in college.

“I always tell them that it was extremely low and I tell them to shoot for as low as they can,” he said. “They always tend to put two extra points on top. My GPA after two years of community college was 0.69.”

When he was 22 years old, he said he had no idea what he wanted in life.

“Going out and drinking every night tends to be repetitive,” Smith said. “At the moment you might think you are having the best time of your life, but after you do it a bunch of times, you realize the experience doesn’t change. It’s just the same experience over and over again.”

Thanks to an undergraduate teacher, Smith pursued biochemistry and decided to go back to school, where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA.

“I wanted to feel good about what I was doing, so that led me going back to school and trying really hard,” Smith said. “It felt really good succeeding in my classes, and eventually that led to the path that decided to be a biologist.”

Colleagues at the USF lab said Smith is a hard worker and always motivates the team.

“Just his love of science, just the love of doing what he does, you can tell that he is passionate about the work that’s done here,” Derek Nichols said. “And, the work that he is looking forward to doing in the future.”

Emmanuel Smith surpassed his own expectations. He tells students if you want to succeed, you need to work hard now.