The Key to College
by Mike Clark, Assistant Director of Admissions
English major Sarah Ann Smith's enthusiasm and focus become apparent the moment the junior starts describing how she found her way into her current area of study.
I loved writing. I loved reading. I always knew I wanted to do something with English, but I never knew what. I particularly like the western frontier era and my American Studies class covers a lot of that. We started with Thoreau and Whitman. We read Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey, which I loved. When I was little, Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my favorite authors. As I matured, I decided I want to go into publishing. It's a big goal, but I'm going to get there.
Smith, a Wesson Honors student, will also pursue minors in Writing for Publication, Education and perhaps Sociology.
Her passions are varied, and she has many experiences that tie into them. She wrote for her high school paper, and now contributes to the Courier, Colby-Sawyer's online student newspaper. Her high school experience with community service led to service projects with the Wesson Honors Program; her experiences with the Big Brother Big Sister program led to her Education minor, and Sociology ties in directly with her work as chair of the Diversity Council.
Kathleen Farrell, one of Smith's professors, says that, sometimes I look at Sarah and can almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she processes new information and weighs it against her previous knowledge and past experiences.
Smith's intelligence and caring nature come across in how she speaks, carries herself, and the activities with which she is involved. And if you look a little closer, you may notice another, more subtle aspect of her life tucked behind each ear.
I come from a hard-of-hearing family; my father, his father, and three of my brothers are also hard of hearing. We all wear what's called a behind-the-ear hearing aid. In high school I had a couple of accommodations that I don't have here, and there are pros and cons to that. It's a good thing that I'm not dependent on other accommodations; it's more me here, but at the same time, what if that could have helped me more? I'm pretty up front about it. I try to situate myself in the middle of the room, and I talk to my professors about it if I miss anything. I feel like that works better overall. I am very proactive. I am very focused.
With a lot of hard work and a little help from the Colby-Sawyer community, Smith is the recipient of a $5,000 Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship for students who are hard of hearing. Professors contributed references and letters of recommendation, and Teresa Gallagher, affectionately known as Momma T to students on campus, even chipped in to cover the cost of sending the application overnight.
"She is a sweetheart," Smith says, remembering Gallagher's act of kindness. "She's one of the nicest women I know. It's a very competitive scholarship. It's quite the process, yes, but it was worth it.
I feel like this year is really clicking for me academically; everything's starting to come together. People say that when you go home you'll feel different, and I'm starting to get that now. I understand more of the world because of my education, and I think that's the key to college.
It is apparent Smith is making the most of her time on campus while also looking ahead to what is next with excitement and anticipation. Last year in a class, as part of a project, we had to research internships, and I researched a lot of the big companies like Penguin and Simon and Schuster. I'm hoping next summer, between my junior and senior years, to intern with one of them. It'd be in New York City, right in the middle of everything. I bite my nails a little about that, but it would be an experience. Who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with New York!"