On Monday October 4th, the Goodnight Scholars program welcomes two new program coordinators, Sierra Smith and Joselyn Barrientos, to the professional staff team. In this role, they will be responsible for coordinating programming, travel opportunities and advising our scholars! Learn more about Sierra in the interview below. Welcome to the Goodnight Scholars Program team, Sierra!
Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you’re coming from?
My name is Sierra Smith and I am originally from Coats, NC but grew up in Wake Forest, NC. I completed my undergraduate work at Meredith College where I majored in Dance Studies and Communication with a concentration in Public Relations. I originally intended to use my degree to pursue a career in Performing Arts Administration, but later realized that I was more passionate about working with college students. So, I attended Elon University to pursue a Master of Arts in Higher Education. While pursuing my graduate degree, I had the opportunity to work in Graduate Admissions and the School of Education at Elon University, Undergraduate Admissions at Midwestern State University, and Student Life and Leadership at UNC Chapel Hill. After graduating, I accepted a position as the Program Specialist for College Programs in the Shelton Leadership Center at NC State University.
How did you know you were interested in working with college students?
I was the over-involved student leader in undergrad. However, I did not realize that I wanted to pursue a career in Higher Education until my senior year. I completed an internship that I had dreamed about since my first year that gave me a chance to see what performing arts administration was like during peak season. I realized that my dream was something I was really good at but did not feel fulfilled by. Upon further reflection, I asked myself what I enjoyed doing that did not feel like “work” all of the time and realized that it was working in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Meredith. It was the best part of my day/week and it really fulfilled me. It is because of this that I asked to work closely with the director and associate directors in a specially designed internship my senior year to learn more about a career in higher education. It was a bonus that one of the associate directors was completing her graduate work in Higher Education here at State and shared all that she was learning and the possibilities of the field.
What most excites you about joining the Goodnight Scholars Program?
I am most excited to meet and build relationships with this amazing group of students and be able to advise them through their entire journey at NC State. There’s so much that I can learn from them about the experiences they bring with them to NC State and those they will gain during their time as students. With that, I am excited to learn more about all that the STEM fields have to offer our students and the world.
What’s your favorite TV show? What character from the show do you closely relate to?
My favorite show is Friday Night Lights. It is very close to what goes on in my everyday life. As the significant other of a high school football teacher and football coach, I can really identify with it. I always joke that I strive to be as great of a coach’s wife as Tammy Taylor. I admire her passion for the students and their wellbeing. She knows how to take care of business but never makes those around her feel small. She genuinely cares for everyone around her and is constantly looking out for the best in every situation.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Most of my free time is surrounded by food, sports, and traveling. I have a goal to try as many sushi rolls as possible in my lifetime. So I frequently try new sushi restaurants. I really enjoy supporting the students at the high school my boyfriend teaches and coaches for, so I usually find myself at a lot of football games and track meets.Usually if I am not on a trip or new experience then I am planning one. I always make a point to find the nearest college or university and take a tour of campus when I go to a new place. It is imperative that I see their student centers, sports facilities, and a significant campus building/statue/sign. There’s something refreshing about learning the traditions and quirks of another campus.
What is a dream that you have that is not tied to work
I dream of travelling to all 50 states and all 7 continents. Travelling allows me to be a life-long learner in a variety of spaces. There’s so much to learn and so little time.