Following the leader
Sharon Smith served two terms as Student Congress
president and is now chair of the U.T. System Student Advisory Council.
Down the road, she might consider a run for U.S. Senate.
As the Sept. 14 National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service concluded
at the state Capitol, Sharon Smith noticed Gov. Rick Perry standing
alone at one side of the room. So the marketing senior walked over
and struck up a conversation with the state's highest official.
"Why not?" she asked. "He
was elected to serve the citizens of Texas, and that includes me.
He was just standing there, so I decided to talk to him."
During the past four years, Smith
has talked to a lot of people, and many times the conversation has
centered on UTA.
She came to the University in 1997,
fresh out of Arlington High School and ready to take on the college
world. Always busy with junior high and high school extracurricular
activities, she "just kept going" at UTA.
"I really wanted to get involved,
so I joined a few student organizations and then decided to run
as a write-in candidate for Student Congress," she said. The
first-semester freshman won.
By the start of her sophomore year,
Smith had been elected president of Student Congress, and she was
re-elected as a junior.
"I had never even really thought
of running for student body president on a campus of this size,"
she said. "But when I finished my first term, I was so deeply
involved in so many projects, I didn't want to quit."
Jeff Sorensen, director of the Office
of Student Governance, cites Smith's dedication and work ethic as
the hallmarks of a leader.
"Sharon's greatest attribute
is her willingness to tackle any problem and work hard at it,"
he said. "A lot of things go into making good student leaders.
They must be committed, have a capacity for hard work and the conviction
to see projects through. When you combine those, you really have
Only the second person to serve two
terms as Student Congress president, Smith left office with a long
list of accomplishments. Under her leadership, course syllabi were
made available to students prior to the beginning of classes, and
students were permitted to check a professor's grade distribution
patterns before registering. She was also a moving force behind
the recent name change of West
Second Street to Greek Row.
"She has a record that she and
the University can be proud of," Sorensen said.
After two terms as president, for
an encore Smith simply stepped into the leadership of a larger organization.
As a senior, she was elected chair of the University of Texas System
Student Advisory Council.
The council, with representatives
from all 15 U.T. System components, meets quarterly and makes recommendations
on issues of concern to the chancellor and Board of Regents.
In addition, Smith is working a dual
internship with Donna Darovich, director of the UTA Office of Public
Affairs, and Kate Kettles, the University's director of governmental
Kettles frequently saw Smith in action
last year during the long days of legislative hearings in Austin.
"Any time UTA needed someone
to show student support for legislation, Sharon would gladly travel
to Austin to represent the student body," she said. "With
no apprehension, she would stay there all night to do so."
What's next for Smith? Probably graduate
school, then a career in public service.
"I want to know that I'm working
toward something that will benefit society," she said, adding
that perhaps one day she'll run for the U.S. Senate.
Or maybe an eager college student
will approach Smith one day when she's governor of Texas.