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Former Southeastern biology student Dr. Smitty Smith is currently doing a residency in family medicine. His experiences as a student and in working in the university's chemistry labs helped prepare him for the challenges of medical school.
Smitty Smith knew early he would probably attend
Smitty Smith, right, talks with Daniel McCarthy, dean of the College of Science and Technology, at Southeastern's Scholars Showcase held for high school seniors.
"I loved Southeastern," exclaims Smith, now a physician doing his residency in family medicine at LSU Bogalusa Medical, Richardson Medical Center in north Louisiana, and Bunkie Medical Center. "The university enabled me to obtain a great education in a friendly environment with a 'small town' feel."
After graduating from Southeastern in 2006 where he majored in organismal and integrative biology, Smith entered LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, where he completed a four-year medical curriculum and earned his medical degree. Now he is learning the skills and techniques needed to be a specialist in the field of family medicine.
Smith recently spoke to high school seniors at Scholars Showcase, an event held every year on Southeastern's campus in which area high school seniors are given the opportunity to meet professors in their planned area of studies. The invited students also are awarded a variety of special academic and housing scholarships. In all, more than 500 Louisiana students with ACT scores ranging from 24 to 33 were offered guaranteed scholarships, four-year awards that are renewed each year depending upon student academic performance.
Smith told the students how, as an undergraduate, he worked closely with his university professors on their professional research projects, something few undergraduates get to do at most institutions.
"I did research in the area of organic synthetic chemistry with Professor Debra Dolliver," he said. "It was a great experience, and I learned a lot working on these projects. I was able to present the results of this research at a number of conferences, including a national meeting of the American Chemical Society."
"Smitty was a very dedicated student who enjoyed being challenged intellectually," recalls Dolliver. "I think his primary motivation was simply to learn all he could at Southeastern. The strategy played out well; his willingness to take difficult classes beyond the standard curriculum set him apart from many others wanting to go to medical school.
"Smitty also worked for several years in my research lab," she added. "Unlike a lot of students who just want to add 'research' to their resume, Smitty was doing it because he liked that he was doing something novel and was contributing to the scientific knowledge base. Because of his efforts, he was a co-author on a research paper in a peer-reviewed chemistry journal. Much of his research set the stage for further work in my lab, and his contributions made it easier for me to receive funding from national agencies like the National Science Foundation."
While Smith can recall a number of Southeastern professors who left an impression on him, Dolliver was by far his favorite.
"She is very passionate about her discipline," he said. "It's easy to tell that she loves what she does. She is by far one of the most passionate teachers that I have ever known."
While at Southeastern, Smith was a member of Delta Omega Alpha, the honor society for pre-professionals. This gave him the opportunity to tour graduate schools, attend workshops and meet medical professionals. While he says "nothing prepares you for the rigors of medical school," his experiences at Southeastern prepared him well for the challenge.