Alumni Profile: Alumnus found renewed love for education in GED program

Monday, September 30, 2019
Written by: Emily Hollingshead

Now, as he prepares to begin his bachelor’s degree at Rollins College, you would think that school has always come easily for David Smith. However, the road to a degree has been far from smooth. After a bad experience in grade school, Smith switched to home school in sixth grade and made it to a seventh-grade level before officially stopping, disheartened with his education as a whole. 

As an adult, he worked dead-end job after dead-end job, but when his mom grew ill with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Smith knew he had to do something to give himself a better future. His aunt, an English and drama teacher in North Carolina, made him a deal that if he found a GED program that she would pay for it. 

“I searched and right down the street in walking distance here is Seminole State College Altamonte [Springs] Campus,” Smith said. “From there I signed up and honestly out of any point in my life education wise I had more reason to quit, but my reason to keep going was much stronger.” He ended up finishing the GED program at Seminole State College of Florida within a semester.

David Smith (far left) with other members of Seminole State's Altamonte Springs SGA in front of the Florida Supreme Court building.

He loved his experience with the adult education program and the environment at the College so much he decided to stay on and work toward his associate degree. He deepened his involvement on campus too, becoming an in-class tutor, the treasurer and then president of the social science club, and founder of the Seminole State chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He even became the Student Government Association vice president for the Altamonte Springs Campus and would settle disputes between clubs and monitor legislation that students had an interest in. 

While vice president, he traveled to Tallahassee with the Florida College System Activities Association, an organization that advocates for state colleges’ interests. “Instead of going as individual colleges and representing 20,000 to 30,000 students, we go with the power of 800,000 potential voters,” Smith said. The trip also gives new members a better understanding on how state government works and the processes involved in it.  

For new students at Seminole State, Smith advises that “as soon as you are done meeting with your advisor, pop into the Student Life office no matter what campus you are on.” The office offers resources for everything including academic help, social organizations and opportunities for career advancement. Smith says one of the biggest hurdles to student success is that they don’t know all the resources available to them. While in student government, Smith was always working toward greater awareness about student resources and encouraging them to utilize tools such as the tutoring lab in the Academic Success Center at Seminole State. “I don’t know how many people worry that tutoring is going to cost them money. Tutoring is absolutely free here. We have fantastic people that run it,” Smith said. “Honestly, it was the first time in my life I had ever gotten an ‘A’ in mathematics and it was because of the support and assistance I got at the tutoring lab.”

I could not have succeeded in the way that I have succeeded without the people here at Seminole State.

David Smith.

Now he is preparing to continue his education at Rollins College, seeking a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology. He was awarded the coveted Presidential Scholarship based on his GPA and his committed involvement to the success of his peers. With his additional grants and scholarships, he is covering $60,000 of his education. 

Yet his proudest achievement is still that he has inspired others to return to school. “I actually have at least seven people that I know of that signed up for GED classes because of my experience and probably another 10 that signed up for college classes,” Smith says. He knows better than most that there are many obstacles when continuing your education: time, money, familial responsibilities and more. However, Smith encourages them to try anyway and says there are always people ready to help you overcome “I could not have succeeded in the way that I have succeeded without the people here at Seminole State.” 

About the Seminole State College Alumni Association

Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.

About the School of Academic Foundations

Seminole State’s School of Academic Foundations offers year-round GED preparatory classes to adult students, an Adult High School program that provides students a personalized education and English Language Studies programs that help students reach personal, educational and professional goals.