Silver City NM- Fall Commencement is showing us the best that WNMU has to offer, with over 200 students graduating with various degrees. 29 year-old Jill Rae Smith is one of those students and she has quite an impressive background. As an undergraduate she will obtain a degree in Sociology with a dual minor in Women and Gender Studies and Psychology.
Jill is originally from Phoenix Arizona, where she attended Southwestern Illinois College until she was a Sophomore, needing just one credit to be a Junior. She transferred to Western New Mexico University three summers ago for a few reasons, one of which being the affordable tuition rate offered by the University. She came to Western to study Psychology, but soon switched her major after taking a few classes with Dr. Emma Bailey from the Department of Social Sciences. When asked her opinion on Dr. Bailey, Jill said, “Dr. Bailey has always worked with me to ensure I would have a successful future. She is an amazing role model and someone who I am excited to continue working with.”
One of the most interesting parts about Jill was her motivation to go to school. “Both of my parents never finished high school,” said Jill, “so it was very important for me to break the mold. As an only child I was the first to graduate high school and now I will be the first one to graduate from college.” In the spirit of continuing to be the best she can be Jill will be continuing on at WNMU, obtaining her Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on political science and sociology.
Aside from being the first in her family to graduate, Jill is also president of one of the most active groups on campus. AAUW, or the American Association of University Women was established in Washington D.C. in 1881. “I was Vice President the previous semester and when the opportunity to be President fell in my lap I jumped at it,” said Jill, “I really wanted to make a difference.”
One of the ways she plans to do that is by continuing in AAUW as well as interning for The Center of Gender Equity in the spring. This is very important to Jill as she works very closely with the LGBT community on campus.
You can see Jill tomorrow, walking across the stage at 3pm at the Fine Arts Center Theatre at Western New Mexico University.