This column is devoted to highlighting staff members that play a huge role in the everyday experiences of the Lawrence community. The goal is to focus on the “Hidden Figures” of Lawrence University and their interests both within, and outside of Lawrence.
As the term draws to a close, we should take a minute to reflect on our experiences at Lawrence and how we got to where we are today. New students are recruited every year through the Admissions staff, but sometimes we do not think about the person who has a personal connection to all of us through reading our applications. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing the woman who has read my Lawrence application, and is one of the reasons why I am a Lawrentian.
Carin Smith is the Director of Regional Admissions. As the Chicago Officer, Smith works from an office in St. Charles, Ill. “I work with prospective students from Illinois and Missouri and help with other areas when it makes life easier for my colleagues. I am only in Appleton five to six times a year,” elaborated Smith.
Smith received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and her Teaching Certification from Beloit College. Smith taught at Beloit, but when she heard there were four positions open for admissions, she applied for the job and was hired. Since then, Smith has worked in admissions thirteen years for Beloit College, three years for the University of Denver and seventeen years here at Lawrence. When asked how she became interested in admissions, Smith replied, “Honestly, I needed to find a job in order to accommodate a career opportunity my husband wanted to take advantage of. So, I kind of fell into a career that I have loved for thirty-three years now!”
The ‘Lawrence Difference’ to Smith is the opportunity to be engaged inside and outside the classroom. “We have the Conservatory, the Honor Code, and a trust system between students and faculty which separates us from many colleges and universities,” she elaborated.
The most important thing Smith learned from her job is not to make any assumptions. She has learned to act as a bridge for a student transitioning from high school and college. It is important to make a connection with students, and by getting to know their home and educational background, she can better understand where they are coming from.
For work, Smith travels to the West Coast in the summer months and the Midwest during the fall and spring. To help out with Lawrence recruitment efforts, Smith travels to Boston, Washington D.C., Salt Lake City, Florida and Texas. “For pleasure, I travel primarily to the West Coast now that two of my three children are living in the Bay Area, as is one of my brothers. I have two brothers who live in Seattle and we have visited them several times as well,” added Smith.
Smith has three children, two out of college and working in the Bay Area and one in college at Drake University in Iowa. Her husband is a high school math teacher and basketball coach and they have a much loved two-year-old chocolate Labrador named Charlie Brown. Although she has lived thirty years in the Chicago area, Smith is originally from Ohio.
When asked what her favorite part of her job is, Smith replied, “I have this amazing opportunity to get to help students through a college search process that is becoming more and more stressful, and it really doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, choosing a college to attend is maybe the biggest decision they have made at this point in their lives, but what an exciting process! I like getting to know [students] as individuals, often getting to know their families as well, what their particular story is, what they are hoping for in a college and doing my best to assist them in getting to the college that will work best for them (hopefully that’s Lawrence).”
Smith’s inspiration is her family because all of them are just as brave as she is when taking risks. She also admires anyone who can write because for her it does not come easy. As many college essays and applications she reads, Smith still has to work hard on her writing skills.
Although Smith cannot be seen on campus, and thus is very hidden, she is an essential part of the Lawrence community. She is personable and knowledgeable. She chooses students who will make the most of their time at Lawrence, and wants to make sure new students succeed.