Kevin Smith, 26, has worn many hats so far in his lifetime, and an Ivy League education from Princeton University may soon be added to his list of accomplishments.
"I attended Vol State for three semesters. While there, I had the chance to play baseball and be part of the honors program. In addition to my core curriculum, I took a couple of great courses in leadership development and a history class that sparked my continued interest in the events around the founding of America," he said."Baseball allowed me to do something I love and continue my education." he said.
Vol State set the tone for Smith to get his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Kentucky, Gatton College of Business and Economics.
Smith recently accepted a full tuition fellowship into the graduate program at the Princeton University Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "I am excited to be focusing my studies on domestic policy. My love for politics evolved out of wanting to make a difference," he said.
He said he has attended literally hundreds of political events in over 40 states assisting the Republican Party, and has had the opportunity to work with the White House and former President George W. Bush. "President Bush is a leader I admire and respect. It was an honor to participate as a presidential motorcade driver, visit the president's ranch in Crawford, and have many other memorable moments with the President such as talking football with him on Super Bowl Sunday." he added.
Smith was also the special assistant to Chairman Robert Duncan of the Republican National Committee during the 2008 presidential election. Republican ideals are important to Smith. "Those are the beliefs and the core that I have; lower taxes, less government, individual responsibility, and a strong national defense. That is my version of the American dream."
Born in East Kentucky, Smith said he has a love for the Appalachian mountain area. "There is a real need for development in East Kentucky and I aim to use my skills and abilities to benefit the region," he said. "I like being engaged in activities that are meaningful and create results."
In 2009, Smith founded a non-profit group called Young Professionals of East Kentucky (YPEK). "This organization brings together young leaders, ages 21 to 40, to benefit and improve the region of East Kentucky. Our motto is: connect, grow, and lead," he said. There are no membership fees and the organization is funded by private donations. "Our sponsors include local corporations and state universities, all whom are invested in developing the regions leaders of tomorrow."Events with YPEK have included forums with U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers and former Kentucky Governor Paul Patton. In addition, the group has participated in community service projects, such as planting native tree species on reclaimed mine sites.
Smith has a plan after graduating from Princeton. "My goal is to bring back new ideas and new solutions to Kentucky and Appalachia."
Smith said that there are many key issues to overcome in the region such as economic development, healthcare, and education to name a few.
His parents played an important role in accomplishing his goals. "Though neither of my parents received a college degree, they continually encouraged me to succeed in the classroom and to follow my dreams. My parents are really thrilled," he said.
"It has been a great ride. In high school my dream was to play college baseball, and once I accomplished that I had new dreams. I like to follow my dreams and my passion. The Lord has blessed me," he said.
For more information on business programs at Vol State, visit the Business Division.