MSU alum receives TRIO Achiever Award


Morehead State Upward Bound Math and Science and Student Support Services alumnus, Tobie A. (Hale) Smith (07) of Huntsville, Alabama, was recognized as a TRIO Achiever at the Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel Conference (SAEOPP), held Feb 3-6 in New Orleans, Louisiana.    

“I’m still shocked that I received the award! I feel so honored to have been recognized by a program that was a pivotal part of my life,” Smith said.  

Smith participated in both Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) and Student Support Services (SSS) at MSU after finishing her sophomore year of high school. She also served as a tutor with SSS and as a resident advisor with UBMS while earning her undergraduate degree. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Morehead State in 2007 with a double major in physics and mathematics. In 2008, Smith earned a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech.  

Aside from gaining a sense of independence and learning to work independently on research projects, Smith said it’s the people she met through Upward Bound (UB) that really made a difference.  

“The people make the program,” Smith said. “During my three years in the program, I met some of the most wonderful folks: fellow students, instructors, counselors and staff. All were invested in the success of every other person in UB, and it gave me a real-life perspective of how to work with a team.”   

Smith is currently employed as the principal data scientist at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) in Huntsville. She is currently working on a project for the United States Air Force and credits a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville while participating in UBMS as her inspiration to enroll in and complete her education in aerospace engineering.  

“UB was the catalyst for where I am now,” she said. “The first time I saw the Saturn V rocket at Space Camp was overwhelming and I’ll never forget feeling so small next to it,” Smith said. “It was that experience that solidified my educational plans. I decided I wanted to earn my degree in aerospace engineering.”  

“It’s been 20 years since my first summer at UB and I still stay in touch with many of the students and staff because they had such a huge impact on my life.”   

The Federal TRIO Programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. MSU hosts five TRIO programs targeted to serve and assist low income individuals, first generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs.  

For more information on Commonwealth Educational Opportunity Centers, Educational Talent Search, Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Upward Bound Math and Science, call 606-783-2614 or visit