There was never really any doubt about where Jordan Smith would go to college. She lived in Johnson City until her family moved to Knoxville when she was 9, so she was acquainted with the East Tennessee State University campus and heard a lot about it from her parents, both of whom are alumni.
“I always wanted to go to ETSU,” she says. “That was the first school that popped in my mind, and when it came time to decide where I would go, I just couldn’t get this school off my radar. My mom suggested I go to an open house, and after that, there was no question where I was going. I didn’t even apply to other schools. I only wanted to go here.
“Everyone I met made me feel like I was welcome here, and they were interested in my success. They cared about how I was doing. So many people have taken an interest in me and made sure that I was succeeding … and if I wasn’t, they pushed me to succeed.”
Likewise, Smith has made it her mission to push others to succeed. The senior Honors-in-Discipline chemistry major chose leadership studies as one of her minors – the other is sociology – and has backed that up with hands-on experience as a student leader.
After participating in ETSU’s Dr. Brenda White Wright Emerging Leaders Academy, she took on a number of leadership roles. She has served as academic achievement chair and programs vice president for Alpha Xi Delta Sorority, positions which have allowed her to “help others realize their potential and make sure they know they can do better and be the best version of themselves.” Later, she enjoyed helping students and their families as a Preview and orientation leader, and went on to serve as an intern with POLO, the Preview and Orientation Leaders Organization.
“From that, I got to see a lot more behind-the-scenes stuff, and there were more challenging aspects to it,” she said. “When people were down or upset, they would go get an intern, and that’s who would deal with the situation. And I’m very big on diversity. Everyone coming into ETSU is different, so you can’t have the same types of people being the leaders – you have to have a wide range of personalities to react to all kinds of students.
“Leadership has always been something that interests me, and I’ve always strived to be a leader who sees other people as equals, so everything’s more of a partnership versus being just a leader and follower,” she continued. “I never wanted to be the person who was ‘over the top’ and ‘in people’s faces,’ but I like to stand back and push them to succeed so that they can grow themselves. ETSU has helped me grow as a person, and I feel it does that for everyone. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone, and while you have to do things to better yourself, you also have to take others into consideration. That’s what I’ve kept with me in everything I’ve done here.”
Jordan, who plans to graduate in May, is in the process of applying to medical schools and hopes to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology.
“Ever since I was little – no joke – when I was 4 years old, I was watching people deliver babies on television,” she recalls. “I don’t know why, but that’s what I wanted to do. I know it could change once I get into med school, but so far, out of all the shadowing I’ve done, OB/GYN has been my favorite and is what I’m drawn to.”