Some students know what they want to major in from their first day at Southern Arkansas University. Will Smith is not one of those students, but a tragic moment opened a door for him and shined a light on a career path he knew he should follow.
Smith said that as a child he wanted to become a marine biologist. He was hooked on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or anything that had to do with the oceans or aquatic life. By the time he started at SAU, his vision had changed and he enrolled as a pre-pharmacy student; he later changed to biology; then to engineering; then back to biology. But during the summer of his senior year, his mentor, SAU alum Bob Crank, passed away and the events that followed led to him being certain of his future career.
“My friends and I needed a lot of help getting through that loss,” Smith said. “I found so much fulfillment in helping my friends through that crisis. I knew counseling was meant for me.”
Smith is now in the School of Graduate Studies at SAU en route to his Master’s in Mental Health and Clinical Counseling and is a graduate assistant for the Office of Alumni Relations.
He admits that he has come a long way from the small town of Horatio and being intimidated by how big he thought the SAU campus was when he started. He quickly got in the groove of SAU’s “Complete College Experience,” and got involved with Beta Upsilon Chi Fraternity, the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, the President’s Ambassadors, the Biology Club and Tri Beta.
“SAU taught me to be more open to other people’s ideas and to be able to develop and defend my own,” said Smith. “SAU also has taught me to communicate confidently.”
Smith hopes that confidence will carry him on to seminary after he earns his second degree from SAU. He plans on becoming a church counselor or a substance abuse counselor.