Going Far: Alumna Latifah Maasarani sees a future in optics & photonics

Friday, February 22, 2019
Written by: Lauren Leetun for Seminole State

Latifah Maasarani sort of laughs when she considers that she is moving towards a STEM career, given that she never really considered science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as a pursuit or passion until she arrived at Seminole State College. She knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, having founded a clothing company at 18, so she initially thought she would track toward a business degree. However, a chemistry course sparked an interest in drug discovery and working with various diseases to try to make a difference, and thus, her trajectory changed. She even served as president of Seminole State’s STEM Club during the 2015-16 academic year.

Fast forward a few semesters and Maasarani was sitting in an honors physics course, when she was introduced to the concept of optics and photonics for the first time. It was like a lightbulb went off and she knew this was what she was meant to do.

After receiving the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship in 2016, Maasarani transferred to the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics (CREOL) to pursue her bachelor’s degree in photonic science engineering, which she will graduate with this May. She continued her leadership activities by becoming the president of the Society of Optics Students at UCF, which has led to her involvement in and recognition by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. In SPIE, she’s been asked to be a part of the Engineering Science and Technology Policy Committee, working on public policy as well as research and development funding.

At UCF, she also received the 100 percent merit-based Astronaut Scholarship and the UCF Founder’s Day Award, which is given to only one student per college, nominated by the dean of that college for their academic achievements and leadership abilities.

She has applied to graduate schools across the nation including Stanford, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, Duke, and Boston University to further her studies in photonics. When asked how the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship has impacted her life, she states it gave her a sense of belonging by introducing her to other high-achieving students and providing her with a community of “Cookie Cousins” she could have never imagined she’d be part of.

About Seminole State College of Florida

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/seminolestate and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate.  #SSC #GoStateGoFar