Students Share Who They’re Grateful For This Thanksgiving

There’s a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. So we asked College of Sciences students to narrow it down to a person that influenced their decision to pursue sciences as a career.


Psalmiyah Barber

There was no hesitation in Psalmiyah Barber’s answer when asked what she was most thankful for this year. Her youngest brother, Ky’Moni Barber, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. Now nine years old and thriving, Ky’Moni has given his sister a slew of inspiration that she channels into her academics. Barber dreams of opening up her own clinic to treat individuals that have special needs.

“I’d really love to work with kids on the spectrum that are nonverbal,” says Barber. “I know how to communicate well with these individuals because of the practice that my brother has given me.”


Raheim Scantlebury

Raheim Scantlebury didn’t always have the affinity for numbers that he does now. For this year’s Thanksgiving, Scantlebury points to his high school math teacher, Mr. Burgess, for inspiring him to study math in college.

“I hated math before him,” says Scantlebury. “I never quite understood why it was that I was plugging numbers or solving equations…it was pointless. But Mr. Burgess gave it a point. He didn’t teach me math; he taught me how to think.”


Katelyn Ramirez
Political Science

Travel has always been the driving force behind Katelyn Ramirez’s life. From a young age, Ramirez’s mother has taken her around the world through work, introducing her to a multitude of different cultures. This, combined with her proud, but occasionally politically un-informed Cuban family members, has driven Ramirez to study political science with a concentration in international affairs. Her hope is to bring both awareness and accuracy to a world peppered with ignorance.

“I love my family so much and I am so thankful that they exist because they truly got me into studying what I’m studying,” laughs Ramirez. “Growing up, I’d hear some of my Cuban family members, who were used to living in communist conditions, make statements that weren’t always politically accurate. It felt like my duty to inform them and to bring a sense of skepticism to their perspective.”


John Buzby

Taking a leap of faith can be a terrifying. But it can also be gratifying.

John Buzby, a biology major with a passion for marine life, wasn’t always knee-deep in the water. Actually, his dream to work in the field of marine biology always felt like a distant dream — one without jobs or financial security. This was until Buzby’s wife, Kelly, gave him a reality check that changed the course of his life.

“I was a history major originally. I thought it was fun and, most importantly, I thought it was safe,” says Buzby. “But one day my wife, Kelly, was like ‘You need to just take a leap of faith and do the things you’re passionate about. We will figure it out.’ And now here I am, 33-years-old and loving the subject I am studying here at UCF.”


Alan Trudeau

Since coming to UCF after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Alan Trudeau has made strides in the academic community. Originally a student of biomedical sciences, Trudeau has since changed his major to chemistry and is embracing every opportunity with gratitude. His most recent achievement  was an invitation back to MIT after a summer working in one of the school’s crystallography labs.

“I’ve always been a good student, and I’ve always loved science,” starts Trudeau. “But I’m just this kid from Puerto Rico. I never thought I’d be able to do an internship at MIT. I really have Michael Jefferies from the Academic Advancement Community to thank for that; he gave me the connections and the push I needed in order to get there.”




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