John Smith – VP University Advancement

In honor of I <3 Drake Week, we’ve asked some of our alumni to share their Drake student experiences corresponding to our week’s theme of planting, nourishing and flourishing our Drake love.

John Smith is a 1992 Drake Rhetoric graduate and a 2000 Drake grad school graduate. He now serves in Drake Development office as the Vice President of University Advancement.

  1.      Plant – What person did you meet at Drake that had the biggest impact on your life, and what would you say to them today to thank them?

Fortunately for me, to identify a single individual is a challenge.  Clearly that is reflective of a rich and powerful undergraduate experience.  However, if I press myself I will say Professor Robert Hariman.  I would thank Professor Hariman for inspiring me to declare Speech (now Rhetoric) as my major.  It was a highly competitive, and highly intellectual group of students.  I was way outclassed academically.  Professor Hariman told me; multiple times, that I belonged.  He identified intellectual and practical skills that I never knew I had.  In short, he offered me a deeper understanding of myself and provided the foundation of confidence upon which to build.

  1.      Nourish – What were you involved in at Drake that had the biggest impact on your life, and how did it help you grow and develop into who you are today?

My experience, friendships, and leadership opportunities created through my Sigma Chi defined – and still defines who I am today.  Within the micro-community of my fraternity I learned leadership skills, interpersonal skills, and communication skills that define much of my style today.  Well beyond the tactical and leadership skills acquired; I discovered the security and safety in true friendships and the value of life-long relationships.

  1.      Flourish – What is something that you’ve always dreamed of accomplishing and were able to accomplish as a result of your Drake experience, and how did your Drake experience prepare you/help you do that?

In college many of my definitions of “future success” centered on monetary measures and material gains.   As life pulled me along, I discovered far more valuable definitions of success.  A loving marriage, remarkable kids, genuine relationships, and civic engagement; those are the metrics of accomplishments that I now embrace.  My Drake education helped me understand a deeper appreciation for the most important characteristics to value.

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