When Alyssa Smith started school at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) in fall 2019, she did not know anyone and felt lost in terms of where to go or how to be involved on campus.
But that feeling swiftly disappeared. During her first day on campus, the Donaghey Scholar was invited to attend the Baptist Collegiate Ministry’s First Night Worship.
“My first experience ever on campus was someone inviting me to First Night Worship. I absolutely fell in love with it,” Smith said. “I don’t know where that burst of confidence came from, but I went by myself to a college event. I was alone and scared and I did it by myself. It was worth it.”
The 2019 Arkansas High School valedictorian quickly got connected and remained involved with the BCM through her entire college experience.
The Texarkana native started on the Freshman Leadership Team where she learned under mentors, built leadership skills and met her fiancé, fellow UALR graduate Baker Rodgers.
In her sophomore year, Smith moved to the “real” Leadership Team for upperclassmen, where she was the new student orientation leader. Her role was to reach out to new students, make them feel welcome and grow the organization.
During her junior year, Smith became a vice president also focusing on new students and freshmen. She served as president of the BCM during her senior year.
Smith said she has been blessed to be part of an organization that emphasizes faith, leadership, outreach, and personal growth.
“All of my best friends came from the BCM. My fiancé came from the BCM,” Smith said. “It made my college experience easy to go through because of the support system the BCM provides and the foundation spiritually that it gives me. All the programing, the small groups and worship every Tuesday night is really what I needed to be able to get through college still fundamentally and spiritually strong.”
Overall, Smith said BCM has been one of the best parts of her college experience.
“It’s the best organization that I could have chosen to be a part of all my four years, and I am really thankful I was able to be a part of it from the beginning to the very end,” she said.
Additionally, throughout her time at UALR, Smith gained experience through her internships. During summer 2022, Smith completed an international internship at Starmans Electronics in Prague, Czech Republic, where she created rods that test materials for cracks using ultrasonic vibrations.
“I love to travel, and this was an opportunity to explore a new part of the world and gain engineering knowledge at the same time,” she said. “It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.”
Smith, who graduated this spring with a major in mechanical engineering, will marry her college sweetheart, Rodgers, on June 10. After a honeymoon cruise in the Caribbean, she will start work as a natural gas engineer at Summit Utilities.