Keeper of the Dream: Tamia Smith


Senior Tamia Smith remembers being independent at a young age. While other children had to be told what to do, Smith did things without having to be asked.

Looking toward her mother as her inspiration, Smith’s go-getter attitude motivated her to become a Keeper of the Dream Award (KOD) recipient in 2023.

“I definitely think that watching my mom take care of me created this independent lifestyle in terms of being able to work for the things that I need in life,” Smith said. 

Smith works as a resident assistant and is involved in Project Big Sister (PBS) and the Association of Black Students (ABS) at OU. ABS particularly struck a chord with Smith, as it allows her to connect with other Black students on campus. 

“[ABS is] involved in doing community engagement events,” she said. “[ABS] strengthens our skills when it comes to academics [and] when it comes to finances.”

ABS has also worked toward making OU’s campus safer for minority students. Smith recalls a moment last semester when ABS lifted her voice after she uncovered a safety hazard within OU’s housing.

“Somebody targeted my car — my mom had me go to the police station to make a report about it,” Smith said. “He said that he would check the cameras, [and] calls me back 15 minutes later telling me that the cameras actually weren’t operating on the side of the building I was on.”

Discovering she would be a KOD recipient was a surreal moment for Smith. Though she has been a highly motivated individual throughout her life, it was hard for Smith to recognize that she made a difference in the OU community.

“I’m so used to just doing things, and I don’t need someone to pat me on the back or recognize me for doing something — I just do it regardless, just because that’s the kind of person I am,” she said. ”To be recognized for the things that I’m doing is just a whole other ball game.”

Through becoming a KOD recipient, Smith feels that she now has more opportunities to help her community.

“I want to spread information that is vital, especially to young voices,” Smith said. “We are the ones that are going to evolve in this world and create the path for — if we are fortunate to have children — for them to follow in our footsteps and do the same thing.”

After completing her health sciences degree, Smith plans on pursuing an accelerated second degree in nursing. Upon witnessing her family encounter problems within the healthcare system, Smith is determined to diversify it.

“There’s not enough people that look like me in healthcare,” she said. “I definitely want to bring awareness to how important it is to have a diverse group of people within every single department.”

Though Smith has thrived on being independent throughout her life, she recognized through meeting the other KOD recipients that there are people at OU who can help her carry the heavy load of enacting important change.

“It was really cool to see that we’re all doing different things aimed at one common goal,” Smith said.

This article is part of a series of articles about the 2023 Keeper of the Dream Award recipients.