La Toyia Malcolm, Fuld Fellow (ABS Program)

La Toyia Malcolm.

About La Toyia

  • Program: ABS Nursing
  • Hometown: Buffalo, NY
  • Favorite Self-Care Activity: Listening to music
  • Previous Education: Master of Science, Multidisciplinary Studies, SUNY Buffalo State; Bachelor of Arts, Anthropology, SUNY University at Buffalo

Why nursing?

From an early age I’ve always had an interest in medicine, but my road to the field of nursing was not at all a straight path. As an adolescent I was very interested in surgery and virology and had aspirations to attend medical school. However, my dream of medical school seemed impossible when I became pregnant in high school. I struggled immensely as a young single mom working multiple part-time jobs, but I successfully obtained my undergraduate degree. I decided to take a year off to save instead of going on for advanced studies. I took a full time job at HSBC Bank, and before I knew it 14 years had passed, and I was taking my daughter to look at colleges! It was at this time that I decided to go back to school to pursue my graduate degree in public health. After completing my graduate studies, I wasn’t able to find a job in public health but landed a social work job in child welfare. My job in social work was extremely rewarding, but I still longed for health care. In my career as a social worker, I had a firsthand look into the many social factors that affect people’s health. This sparked my interest in a more hands-on health career, so I began to do some research and talk to my friends in the nursing field. The more I learned the more I felt that nursing was the perfect fit for me and I kicked myself for not realizing this 20 years sooner!  I feel like nursing is kind of a mash up of public health and social work, and I love the many diverse career opportunities that I will be afforded as an RN.    

Why UB?

UB’s standard for excellence as a research institution and the reputation of its professional health programs were some of the first reasons why UB was the top choice for my nursing education. Also I completed my undergraduate degree and half of my graduate courses at UB so I was familiar firsthand with the quality of the academics and the dedication of the professors to their fields.  Lastly the opportunity to complete a second bachelor's degree in just 12 months and the cost of UB made this decision a no brainer!  

Areas of Interest

I haven’t decided what area of nursing I would most like to practice. I’m hoping to have a specific interest sparked during clinicals. Ultimately I am very interested in promoting positive health outcomes in the community through health behavior change; and I’d like to use my clinical nursing knowledge and skills to increase my effectiveness with this goal. I am very interested in health disparities and hope to take an active role in trying to reduce inequities in the Buffalo community. 

The majority of my family is obese or morbidly obese and have a plethora of health problems associated with negative health behaviors, primarily poor eating and exercise habits and smoking. I’ve watched them suffer from preventable illnesses, including the loss of both my father and grandfather to diabetes. I noticed similar patterns in the community at large and want to nurse this community back to health.   

Activities and Accolades

  • Dean’s List
  • 3.9 GPA in graduate school
  • Member of the Buffalo Health Equity Task Force
  • Nomination for The National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi)

I was a social worker with Child and Family Services advocating for families at risk of losing their children to the foster care system with the goal of allowing the children to safely remain at home. Many of my clients suffered from substance use and mental health disorders and I really saw the effect of these illnesses on the individual’s health. 

I was 1 of 20 volunteers in the US chosen for a public health internship in Uganda. My team of four spent the summer working on sustainable water solutions to provide safe drinking water to the village with the hope of reducing the morbidity and mortality of waterborne illness in that community.  


As a mother of three, I have very little time for actual hobbies, but I do enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I also love traveling and dancing for fun. Life moves so fast, so I really enjoy taking time to sit back, relax and just enjoy the present. 

What's Next

Number one goal … pass the NCLEX! Once that’s out of the way, I plan to work in the hospital setting for about three years to gain valuable practical nursing experience and refine my nursing skills. Years four to five post-graduation the goal would be to work for a community health agency and really get a sense of the community needs and challenges in terms of their health. And I hope to end my career with a government health agency working to improve health outcomes on the macro level. 


The most important benefit I am getting from this scholarship opportunity is the gift of time.  This financial award will free up time that I would have lost working for wages to pay for school. I hope to use this time to volunteer/internship opportunities that will expose me to various settings in the field of nursing. It will be a relief to focus on academics with less worry about how I am going to pay for school.