INSTITUTIONAL IMPACT

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

 

  • Developed advising & students success model that was beta tested with conditional admit freshmen over a two-year period. Student population had an average cumulative ACT score of 19.2

  • Increased fall-to-fall retention of conditional admits from 78 to 92%

  • Increased freshman cumulative grade point average by 14%

  • Increased credit hours earned by first year freshman by two full credits

  • Reduced students who were on academic warning after first year by more than 72%

  • Increased percentage of students with at least a 3.0 GPA after first year by 33% (51.9% of total)

  • More than thirty-seven percent (37%) of students who were conditionally admitted qualified for admission to University Honors College after first year.

IMPACT ON STUDENT LIVES

My name is Miravone Dorough and I graduated from Jefferson high school in 2004. I have my own family practice as a Naturopathic and Chiropractic doctor in downtown Naperville, IL. 

 

Adam Smith played a very important role in my educational career. When I joined Upward Bound in high school, I was given so much educational and emotional support. I met some amazing people that I got to share so many life experiences and had such amazing knowledgeable resources to turn to concerning college and anything that comes after high school. Adam was always very wise, patient, honest, and caring for all the students in the program. He provided an environment filled with wonder and unforgettable experiences (our college tours were phenomenal). His leadership was an integral role into the success of the program for so many years and it is very obvious he is gifted. I am extremely thankful for Adam and his role in my life. His inspiration continues to live in all the students he has worked with throughout the years, including my own life."

Dr. Miravone Dorough

Chiropractic & Naturopathic Physician
Alumnae - Rock Valley College Upward Bound

I met Adam Smith in 2014, my senior year of high school, in the halls of Kent Roosevelt. He approached me and asked what university I was planning to attend. I replied Kent State University. His response, “Has Kent State come here to recruit you?”  Little did I know; this brief conversation would start a relationship I’d forever be grateful for. Adam Smith saw the potential in me immediately.  I attended the Summer Bridge Running Start program where I was taking precalculus and the only Black female in that math class. I was pursuing a major in nursing, but Adam had different plans for me. He saw I was excelling in my math course and asked me had I ever considered engineering. I knew very little about engineering and assumed all engineers worked on cars. I was very wrong. I did some research and Adam introduced me to faculty and students on campus who told me all the amazing things you achieve with a degree in engineering. I called my mom, who is a nurse, and told her I was considering switching from nursing to engineering. I was a direct admit into the nursing program so my mom wasn’t a fan of the switch. She came on campus to talk with Adam. Adam took the time out of his day to talk for hours with my mom to inform and convince her the switch would be worth it. I really appreciated the support and dedication he showed from the beginning to help me succeed. Engineering was a lot tougher than I thought. I struggled, I cried, I failed, but I always had support that never allowed me to give up. Adam pushed me to succeed and always reminded me that I can do this. My first semester, I remember I was so nervous about finals. Adam told me about having an exam entrance song. He sent me the song Hypnotize by Biggie Smalls and I listened to that song before all my finals that semester. His support didn’t stop even after he changed Universities. Even though he was hours away I knew I could call, text or email him with anything, and he’d be there. I graduated this May with my Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. Not sure what I wanted to do post-graduation, I became stressed and a little depressed. Adam heard about my struggle and immediately reached out to me. He called me, helped me come up with a plan, reminded me to keep God first, and gave me advice all within our 45-minute conversation.

Adam has been a mentor, a coach, a teacher, a campus dad, a preacher all in one. I am so blessed to have such a person in my life.

Melisha Vaughn

Biomedical Engineer

Alumnae - The University of Akron

My name is John Weigand and I first met Adam Smith roughly nine years ago at the University of Akron.  At that time Adam was running a program in “Choose Ohio First” a STEM scholarship program. Adam did something different from many programs however, Adam looked for students that generally wouldn’t get scholarships.  Non-traditional students like myself, women in STEM, minorities in STEM and first generation college students. If you look at any data these are the folks that fall through the cracks in terms of retention and graduation rates. 

 

Now that we got the history out of the way here is what you really want to know.  First, this is my account, of what Adam did for me. Adam took a group of people that historically fail, are left behind or not included in academic thoughts and had the or one of the highest five year graduation rates on the University of Akron Campus.  Adam told us we were scholars, literally put it on our chest “a sweatshirt” and then most important believed in us until we believed in ourselves.  

 

I have been a leader in the kitchen, I have been a leader in sports and I have been a leader in the Scouts.  Never before had I been witness to such a powerful and amazing orator as Mr. Smith. I watched him convince parents that he was what was best for their son or daughter and then in 3-5 years deliver on that promise with a golden standard.  I learned my personal philosophy of education from Adam, and just like Adam when any of my students struggle and fail I take that as a personal loss.  

 

I close with this, Adam is a once in a lifetime force of nature.  He was called to help people, and I have never seen him not work to this end.  If you are willing to pay attention and most importantly buy into what Mr. Smith is doing I will personally promise you he will be their from the start until the end of your journey.  I speak with Mr. Smith three years after graduation almost weekly still seeking advice and mentorship for my role as an educator and a coach.    

John Weigand

Alumnus - The University of Akron

Mr. Smith came into my life the summer of 2001. I was a rising 9th grader that year and little did I know he would become a life-changing and lifelong mentor. He not only inspires me, but also generations of students in a geographic region that was a mixture of urban, rural, first-generation and low-income students. His heartfelt talks made me, the daughter of Hmong refugees from Laos, realize that my hopes and dreams of going to college to become a teacher and writer was a possibility. Mr. Smith always leads by example, and his actions guided me through high school, undergrad, and masters program, along with getting my first professional job in higher education. His influence in my life changed the trajectory of where I thought I would be to where I am now—better than I could have planned with eight years and counting in higher education. He has the gift of making meaningful connections with students and their families. My mom still quotes things he used to say at the parent meetings from my high school years. He has helped my siblings and close friends realize their dreams, which is not an easy feat considering we are from a tight-knit Southeast Asian community. I have had the honor to work with Mr. Smith for three years at a university where I got to see him build a network of support and success for thousands of students while still maintaining personal mentoring relationships with students and their families. He is strategic as he is personable and does everything with the highest of ethics. Mr. Smith and his family are a blessing in my life.

Martha Vang Lyfoung

Educator

Alumnae- Rock Valley College Upward Bound

Adam Smith is hands down the best mentor that I’ve ever had…and I’ve had a lot of great ones! He has the unique ability to identify diamonds in the rough long before others would. He is an effective leader—calm and consistent—and has a track record of visionary guidance. Adamselected me as one his initial few mentees as the University of Akron. When I received my letter of acceptance, I stood on my front porch and cried because I knew that my newly awarded scholarship would allow me to quit my job and focus 100% on my son and my studies. What I didn’t know at that time was that, beyond the financial support, I would learn how to soar while remaining humble. I would learn how to grind in the face of doubters. When it came time to choose my career path, Adam wisely steered me towards the option that would fit my personality perfectly. He advised me to follow my passion and the money would follow. He was spot on correct and I am forever grateful for his continued support from thousands of miles away. Most importantly, the skills that Adam has taught me has allowed me to successfully mentor dozens of new rookies to prepare them for the big leagues! 

Dr. Leanne Burnham

City of Hope Clinical Research Center

Division of Health Equities Community Prostate Cancer Screening Coordinator

Alumnae – The University of Akron

Plainly put, Adam Smith is mobilizer of people and their potential. I was a part of a program in which Adam Smith lead, mentored, and influenced a group of students who were first generation college students, low socio-economic, and unlikely to succeed in the majors chosen to academic success, and ultimately, success in their chosen careers. I was one of these students. I can say, with 100 percent surety, that I would not be where I am right now without Adam's tutelage. 

Willie Cook

Assistant Principal - Akron Public Schools
Alumnus - The University of Akron

“There was no greater institutional influence on the success of my college career than Adam Smith. Adam has always been able to see in me potential that I have not yet discovered. At the most pivotal points in my college career, Adam motivated me to take rigorous math classes, encouraged me to pursue rewarding job opportunities, and inspired me to help other students achieve academic excellence. During his time at the University of Alabama, I watched as Adam shaped his legacy by creating the Student Success program that cared not only for students’ academic achievements, but also their personal success at the University. I thank Adam for the impact that he has had on my life, the opportunities that he provided me, and the people he has connected me with; I truly believe that he is fulfilling his God given purpose.” 

Jessica L. McTier

Program Management Senior Analyst - Cigna Health Spring

Alumnae – The University of Alabama

My experience at The University of Alabama was very different before and after I met Adam Smith. Being conditionally admitted to The University of Alabama, made freshmen me feel less equipped as my peers, even after graduating high school with a 4.0 and displaying hardworking characteristics. Before Adam became my mentor, I was being advised like every other student, with no regard to my life experiences or the type of environment I craved to thrive in. Adam created an environment that built a relationship with their students, creating a unique plan for every student. But more importantly, Adam helped me believe in the Woman of God that I am and am becoming. He pushed not only me, but all his students to success. He never left a student without an answer to their problem or a pep talk to encourage. Without Adam, I would have given up on my dream of becoming a doctor, and because of Adam I am so much closer to this dream becoming a reality.

D’Kota Wyatt

Alumnae - The University of Alabama

It is truly hard to put into words how great of an influence Adam has been in my life. He is larger than life and has quality about him that leaves an everlasting impression. I graduated from the University of Akron in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science Pre-Physical Therapy and currently work as an EMT for Mecklenburg County Emergency Medical System. I also serve in the United States Air Force Reserves. Adam has been a key component in my life since 2011. I came to the University of Akron as a first-generation college student not knowing a thing about how to navigate through college life. I was also a student-athlete for the university’s women’s track team. Adam saw a strong student in me that I did not know was there. 

 

He was not just guidance for me academically, but he was also someone who kept me motivated. He became someone I knew I could count on to be completely honest . When I decided I no longer wanted to be an athlete, Adam helped me through a tough transition. He connected me to new teammates that turned into friends and lifetime connections.

 

Even in dark times and mistakes, Adam was someone I could turn to, without judgement, and uplift me while still holding me accountable. He understood when I needed breaks but did not let me bury myself in self-pity. Without Adam’s dedication, I doubt I would have graduated college. He was there for me on a level that went beyond the classroom and grades. He picked me up when I fell and made sure I remembered that I was still talented when I felt as though I wouldn’t succeed. There are not enough ‘’thanks’’ in the world that could measure up to my gratitude. Now, currently serving in the United States Air Force Reserves, I use Adam’s model of a servant leader to lead and motivate those around me.

Tiffany Caldwell

United States Air Force Reserves

Alumnae - The University of Akron

I met Adam at a time in my academic career when my confidence was lacking. Adam provided me with a community and support system that helped me rediscover identity. Adam taught me important life lessons that I have been able to apply in my collegiate, profesional, and personal lives. I owe much of my success to the relationship fostered with my mentor. 

Kiasia haire

World Class Manufacturing Manager - CertainTeed Saint-Gobain

Alumnae - The University of Akron

Adam is inspiring to all he works with. He has a way to connect with people and make people feel valued. Adam is a strong leader and has impacted my life in a positive way. When I first met him. I wasn’t sure what path I would go down and he helped me get focused on my schooling. He truly cares for others and wants to see others be successful. 

Evan Witalison

Sports Broadcaster & Social Worker

Alumnus - Rock Valley College

Hearing Adam was appreciated and a MUST for students within our school community. He related to the high-school-aged youth on so many levels. The kids in our program come from one of the poorest zip codes in the United States, and he was able to relate with them in a matter of minutes. There were adults who initially thought his presentation would just benefit the students but, by the end, they expressed how the could relate to the positive tone and real-life situations Adam shared. I most definitely will be reaching out in the future to have Adam speak for other programs I am involved in.

DENNIS BAILEY JR.

Career Pathway Success Coach & 21st Century Site Coordinator - Manual High School

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We're working with Adam this year to provide a virtual workshop series on respectful dialogue and intentional listening. He is doing a great job capturing the attention of our students on these MUCH-needed topics given the contentious world we exist in right now. He also did a keynote for our program in September to kick off the academic year and provide motivation for our students to continue the hard work. Adam also provided a virtual keynote address to kickoff the academic year for TRIO Upward Bound students. I'm grateful for Adam’s ability to connect with our students even in the virtual environment and create a safe space for students to ask questions and learn how to have meaningful conversations about these topics.

LAUREN ERDMAN

Director TRIO Upward Bound - Anoka Ramsey Technical College

Adam is a truly remarkable speaker. His engaging personality and willingness to share his own life experiences allow him to build instant rapport with his audience. His passionate message of perseverance and overcoming obstacles is uplifting, inspiring, and enormously entertaining. 
Keeping youth engaged can be challenging, especially in a virtual setting. Adam is incredibly skilled at creating meaningful connections with students, regardless of the situation.  

CHRIS YOUNG

TRIO Upward Bound Director - College of St. Benedict/St. John's University

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I have listened to two of your recorded webinars for Infobase, where you addressed getting into college and making it through college. They both were very informative for me as a teacher and as a parent. One of the big differences that I see between my top-performing students and my students who struggle is that they are either comfortable talking with the teacher (me) or they are driven. Even though I do everything I can to encourage discourse, discussion, and questions, there are some students for whom it takes a great, great effort to speak. This year, it is even tougher with students online. Another person's voice is so powerful. Thank you again for sharing the webinars. 

Stephen Schrader

6th and 7th Grade Math Teacher -
Southwest Middle School

Our 2021 spring orientation session was led by Adam Smith. He dropped several gems for the participants and staff members of our TRIO Student Support Services program. If you’re looking for an engaging speaker that models the use of transparency while telling his story to motivate the audience, Adam Smith is the answer. Adam sees each opportunity to share with TRIO students and staff as an opportunity to serve, which aligns with success. "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr."

Loretta mask campbell

Director, TRiO Student Support Services - Wor-Wic Community College

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