Jasmine Smith was connected to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith before graduating high school. A Mansfield native, she participated in the Western Arkansas Technical Center program through UAFS and would then graduate from UAFS with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.
The next step was a master’s degree in college student personnel at Arkansas Tech University, where the graduate assistant would also work as a classroom instructor.
But she would return to UAFS as coordinator for student activities. After several promotions, Smith was in July 2021 named to the position she now holds.
“Before coming into this job, I had a wonderful supervisor, and everything was flexible, and nothing had to stay the same,” Smith said.
That flexibility would be rewarded in early 2020 when COVID-19 changed everything. Smith said almost all they did before the pandemic focused on in-person events. Everything shifted online, including a virtual 5K run in which participants could send photos of their participation, a virtual homecoming for alumni, and other virtual interactions “where people could still feel engaged, could still be connected.” Smith said lessons learned during the pandemic would help the office after the pandemic subsides.
“Everything has changed. It had to. We had to change the way we were doing things to reach the people we provide services to and how we provide services to people,” Smith said. “In some ways, the challenge did us a favor because it allowed us to reach more people than ever before and reach them where they are.”
The mother of two young children is also the UAFS staff senate chair, representing more than 325 UAFS staffers. The job includes planning two university staff meetings designed to improve and enhance the connection between staffers, the university and students.
Smith is also a certified suicide prevention and awareness instructor and has since 2017 worked with staff, faculty and students to identify “suicidal ideation” factors and provide a welcome space for anyone struggling with those factors.
Her goal now is to create more opportunities for alumni and students to engage with the university.
“I plan to be here for a while. We just finished a vision-setting process … It’s a good time to be a Lion.”