Bridget Smith

 

Bachelor of Arts 2017, Political Science

 

Bridget Smith is currently a Teach for America Corps Member in the Appalachia Region at Floyd County Schools, Kentucky, teaching sixth grade social studies. Additionally, she was the Chief Operations Officer for the Universal Student Fund from 2015-2017. She was also the only undergraduate recipient of the George Washington Award, for her outstanding contributions to the George Washington University community.

 

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What excites you about the work you do? Right now I'm a teacher, and what I love is that I perform so many different job. Actually teaching the children the things is about 10% of my work: I'm a mentor; a support system; a role model; a shoulder to cry on. My kids often come from unimaginably difficult home situations, places that are unsafe and scary. But, no matter what happens outside of school, in my room they get to be (big) little kids - 10-12 year olds who have questions about the world, who are amazed at how big and diverse countries are, and who just want to have fun and explore. Giving them an oasis where they get a break, and get some time to figure out who they are, is incredibly rewarding.

 

What is the most significant career experience you've had so far, and what made it meaningful to you? I've been lucky to have a lot of meaningful career experiences. I think the most important thing a job teaches is what you DON'T want in a job. I've loved most of the work that I've done, and all of the people I've ever worked with. But the reality is, when you graduate college, all you are prepared to do is know if you want to be a professor for the rest of your life. You have no idea what other careers you want, or might be good at. Taking different jobs, meeting new people, and learning things, is the only way to find out what you're truly passionate about, and to find a career you're genuinely happy in.

 

How did GWU and the UHP prepare you for your professional journey? In what ways has your career evolved since you graduated from GWU? GWU and the Honors Program gave me a really valuable opportunity to learn a ton, and have lots of different experiences. I started college wanting to be a journalist, then quickly realized I hate social media so journalism probably wasn't the career for me. I dabbled across the public and private sectors at GW, and entered my senior year totally lost. I heard about Teach for America and realized that, even though I'd had a ton of diverse and varied experiences, they all aligned towards education, and the role education plays in empowering students to control their future. Since I've been involved with Teach for America, I've learned a ton about teaching and education in the U.S. - and about what I want to have as a long term career. Currently, I plan on returning to grad school in the near future in order to apply the skills I've gained in a new perspective.

 

Advice for current UHP students: I wish someone had told me that the first year after graduation is really hard for no reason, and that's okay. We watch lots of TV shows that tell us everything is amazing - you'll have an awesome job, 6 amazing friends, you'll hang out at a bar/coffee shop all the time...all that stuff. Sometimes you will have all that, but it'll still be really hard, sometimes for no reason. Giving yourself permission for it to be hard, and to take care of yourself, is really really important. And it gets easier.

 

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