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Chelsea Smith joins W&M Higher Education faculty

This fall, the School of Education welcomes new faculty members. Today, we introduce Chelsea Smith, who is joining our Higher Education faculty.

Tell us a little about your background and what brought you to W&M. 
I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. While I have moved around a lot in my adult years, Atlanta will always be home. I had a very unique undergraduate experience, so it is almost serendipitous that I ended up in higher education as my career. I began my undergraduate career at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. I was then a two-time transfer student, ending my undergraduate tenure at the University of Georgia (GO DAWGS). I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Following undergrad, I took three years to hone my passions, which led me to work with the College Advising Corps, which was actually founded in Virginia. I spent two years working as a college advisor serving at both Maynard H. Jackson and D.M. Therrell High Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. In this position, I was able to grow my passion for the education pipeline specifically for underrepresented students as well as becoming aware of many of the disparities that existed within education.

In 2016 I took my talents to Ames, Iowa and completed my M.Ed. in Student Affairs and graduate certificate in Education for Social Justice at Iowa State University. I completed my doctoral program in Higher Education Opportunity, Equity, and Justice as a Southern Region Education Board Fellow at North Carolina State University. During my time as a graduate student, I served on the executive board for the Black Graduate Student Association and the Higher Education Doctoral Association. I also became actively involved in the Association for the Study of Higher Education Council for Ethnic Participation Mentor-Protege Program. In this organization, I found my scholarly community and grew my confidence and skills as a scholar and educator. After one year in administration, I knew I belonged in the classroom with students which led to me William & Mary. I am excited to be a part of the Tribe!

What’s your area of research and what question are you most passionate about answering right now?
My research focus centers primarily on the experiences of Black women within the higher education landscape. Additionally, I am focused on the experiences of graduate students and their development as students and paraprofessionals. I am committed to understanding and enhancing the experiences of all students. Some questions that come to mind are how we can better leverage diversity that exists on our campuses? How can campuses enhance the graduate student experience? In what ways can we better include graduate students in the greater campus community? While there are so many questions I hope to answer, I am very eager to make sure all stakeholders remain curious and open to learning in our current educational, socio-political climate.

What else are you hoping to get involved with on campus or in the community?
What I love about W&M and the community is the variety of areas for me to become involved and more integrated into the community. I am hoping to become more involved with other women’s leadership organizations, cultural organizations, and supporting Black graduate students on campus. I am also looking to maintain and curate relationships with the institutions in close proximity to W&M.

Anything else you’d like to share?
As a historian, I am excited to be up close with one of the most historically relevant areas within our country. I also look forward to immersing myself in many of the campus traditions.