by Sandi Waibel
Race Relations and African American History Club member
Living during the peak of the great depression in southeastern U.S. was difficult for everyone, and even more so for many African-Americans. However, if you were fortunate enough to be reared in a household with loving, determined parents who: guided you, stressed the importance of education, and taught you how to survive segregation, then you were already different. Thomas Smith was that fortunate.
Thomas developed a passion for science in high school and majored in chemistry/biology at Benedict College in Columbia, SC. He then worked at the National Institute of Health (NIH) – Heart Institute for eight months before being drafted. Subsequently he returned to NIH and obtained his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry at George Washington University.
Dr. Smith attained credibility as a scientist by: gaining post-doctoral experience at Washington University in St. Louis; employment at Melpar, Inc.; Lawrence Livermore Laboratory; UTHSC-Dallas; and Howard University. He participated on many national and international committees, even in Ethiopia. He chaired the Biochemistry Test Writing Committee for NBME with the responsibility of certifying the appropriateness of questions used for licensure examinations for potential physicians – possibly physicians who have treated some residents here at Riderwood took licensure exams with questions approved by him. Thomas often helped others. He did so through programs such as the Black Executive Exchange Program sponsored by the National Urban League and the United Negro College Fund.
Now in his ninth decade, that child who wanted to be different succeeded. He is now a retired Professor Emeritus of Howard University College of Medicine, and a very caring resident of Riderwood.