Jessica “Jessi” Smith of Afton has been honored as the “Student of the Block” for the second block of the fall semester at Tusculum College.
Smith was recognized in a brief ceremony on Wednesday, October 28. The Office of Student Affairs presents the “Student of the Block” award each block to honor a student who excels academically and is a leader in the campus community. Faculty members and/or staff nominate students for the award.
Nominating Smith were Tommy Arnett, head men’s and women’s tennis coach and Deborah Davis, associate athletic director, senior women’s administrator and NCAA compliance officer.
Smith, a senior pre-medical studies major who has a minor in chemistry, is co-captain of the tennis team.
“Jessi carries a bubbling personality to everyone she comes in contact with on a daily basis,” Coach Arnett said of Smith in his nomination. “Success is written all over this young lady’s future career as she steps onto the real world … and I consider myself a better person for the opportunity afforded to me to have Jessi as a friend.”
In her nomination, Davis said of Smith, “Even as she juggles her pre-med studies with her role as the co-captain of the women’s tennis team, Jessi still manages to focus on others. Whether working at Habitat for Humanity or the local food bank, or mentoring children in athletics and academics, Jessi embodies the true character of a civic-minded student.”
In presenting the award, Jacqui Elliott, vice president for enrollment management, said, “Leadership has been defined as a practice ‘not so much in words, but as in attitude and actions.’ This characterization of leadership truly defines Jessica Smith.”
The spirit of leadership Smith shows at Tusculum could also be seen in her days as a student at South Greene High School where she was actively involved in three sports and several student organizations such as the Student Council, National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Smith chose to attend Tusculum due to its close proximity to her family and church family, which she adores. The daughter of Alan and Rebecca Smith and sibling to brother Heath, Smith is extremely proud of her family. She admires her parents for “who they are and the example they have set for my brother and I. They are extremely intelligent and always encouraged me to achieve my ambitions by telling me I was capable of anything. They always made me feel confident and have given me the opportunity to experience great things, like a surf camp… I’m just happy and fortunate they could do these things for my brother and I.”
As a true servant leader, Smith is committed to others through service to the community in which she lives. She is very active in her church, the First Church of God in Greeneville, teaching youth Sunday school programs, leading summer camps, providing support for the nursery program, participating in the Hispanic ministry and assisting in the direction of the Easter and Christmas dramas.
As a Tusculum College student athlete, Smith has always taken pride in her role as co-captain of the women’s tennis team and president of the Pioneer Student Athlete Advisory Committee. With all of these responsibilities, she continues to maintain an impressive 3.32 grade point average.
Smith givers her all on the tennis court in her own matches and cheers on her teammates during there matches. While Smith excelled on the basketball court for many years, she chose to continue in tennis during her collegiate career. This choice has afforded her many opportunities such as meeting many students from various countries and the independence to be a championship athlete and focused student.
In her free time, Smith can be found working with the youth program at her church, water skiing and wakeboarding on local lakes or camping.
As she prepares to graduate next May, Smith looks forward to future. She hopes to continue her education in graduate school to become a physician’s assistant. Smith chose this career path in order to participate in future mission trips to third world countries so that she can provide medical aid to those in true need. To enhance her career experience, Smith chose to spend the last few summers job shadowing various doctors, logging approximately 200 hours of observation.
As she reflects on her many experiences at Tusculum, Smith fondly remembers bonding time with her friends, road trips to sporting events to cheer on her fellow Pioneer athletes and the numerous trips to tennis matches. Her advice to all is to always “be yourself and enjoy who you are - if you are trying to do something which is not reflective of you, you will not be happy in your efforts.”