Since Payton also enjoyed math, the 20-year-old figured that engineering, which is an applied science, would be a great fit for a major. And even though there aren’t as many female role models in the engineering profession, she found the perfect one at UALR.
“Dr. Nidhal Bouaynaya was the only female professor I had,” said Payton. “She always pushed me in class and even after the semester was over she asked me to do research for her.”
Payton added, “It was a good experience. To see her being a woman and engineering professor, it kind of gave me some hope in looking at my career. Maybe I might want to be a professor some day.”
But her peers are also a great source of inspiration, said Payton.
“South Hall is mostly for math, science, engineering, and technology majors, so it is kind of a community atmosphere,” she said.”We work a lot with each other and getting to know them outside of the classroom has been really helpful.”
Payton, a Donaghey Scholar, said the scholarship program was exactly what she wanted to get out of college — “rigorous academics, teachers who are focused and care about you, and also a community of students who are dedicated and driven.”
She is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers, as well as the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. To relieve stress from a full day of academic work, UALR’s intramural sports are another great fit for Payton.
“If I’m not studying, I try to get out of the dorms and get some exercise … I’m big on the activity sports,” she said.