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New Graduate First in Family to Receive University Diploma

Published: April 23, 2012
Latoya Bowe will graduate with a biochemistry degree.
Latoya Bowe will graduate with a biochemistry degree.
As the youngest of six children, it is unusual for Latoya Bowe ’12 to be the first at anything in her family. However on May 6, when she receives her diploma, she’ll be the first person in her family to receive a college degree.

“Graduations are very special in my family,” said Bowe, whose extended family will be attending the ceremony at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “I think my mom is over the moon. Every day that graduation gets closer she tells me how proud of me she is.”

Bowe grew up in Nassau, the Bahamas, with a mother who had high expectations for her youngest child, the one who came seven years after the next youngest. Bowe said her mother wouldn’t allow for any grade less than an A and only approved extracurricular activities that were academically focused. While Bowe wanted to please her mother, she also enjoyed the competition and the recognition that comes with doing well.

She chose UT sight-unseen, though she attended several college fairs where she was able to talk with admissions staff. She liked that UT was close to home, diverse and had some great science professors.

“Academically UT challenged me and helped me find a balance between performance and learning,” Bowe said. “UT also made me think about the role I want to play in the community once I graduate. Because of the leadership roles I’ve had here, I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.”

Bowe will graduate with a biochemistry degree and has applied to FAMU’s College of Pharmacy which she hopes to attend in the fall. When Bowe first arrived on UT’s campus, she wanted to go to medical school. After four years of academic and personal growth, Bowe decided she wanted to become a pharmacist.

“UT expanded me as an individual and a leader,” said Bowe, vice president of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, a resident assistant and lab assistant in the anatomy and physiology lab. “Being a pharmacist allows me to educate others, which is important to me.”

It also allows her the flexibility to stay involved in the community and will help her reach her personal goals of one day helping to pay it forward – helping her nieces pay for a college education.

“A college education is a privilege,” Bowe said. “A lot of students go through the motions, but we’ll never have another experience like this to truly better ourselves.”

Bowe cited a defining moment for her at UT when she joined Delta Sigma Theta and later became vice president. The leadership role she assumed within the sorority increased the expectations people had of her and made her more conscious of what she said, how she acted and how she dressed.

“Representing others made me more conscious of how I represent myself,” she said. “It made me walk the talk.”

Bowe said the university experience teaches students how to multitask, how to market themselves and to build their own brand. Bowe’s brand includes being passionate, enterprising, energetic and humble.

“And a future pharmacist.”

Have a story idea? Contact Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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