Hometown: Bristol, Connecticut
MINor: Justice and Law Administration
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Activities: Varsity volleyball team, Kathwari Honors Program, Supplemental Instructor in Psychological Statistics, P.A.S.S. tutoring, part-time jobs on campus at the Daily Grind (2014-15), Campus and Student Centers (2016) and the History and Social Sciences Office (2016), worked part-time off-campus at the Center for Human Development (2016), currently a substitute teacher for Kelly Educational Services
INTERNSHIPS: MCCA Sobering Center and Naugatuck Valley Community College Center for Academic Planning and Student Success
Honors and Awards: Presidential Merit Scholarship (2013-16), Roberta B. Willis Scholarship (2013-16), W. Jason & Ellen Hancock Scholarship (2015-16), Guido Tino Memorial Scholarship (2016), Dean's List (2013-16), Academic All-American, All-District Team (2015-16), LEC All-Conference (2013-16), LEC All-Academic Team (2014-16), Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, Outstanding Senior in Psychology, Highest Building GPA Housing Award (2013-16), Summa Cum Laude, 4.0 cumulative GPA, Valedictorian of Kathwari Honors program for the class of 2017
Karissa Smith doesn't just kill it on the volleyball court, she kills it in the classroom — and that came in handy when she looked at Western Connecticut State University as a college option. "At my volleyball recruit visit, I got to meet former WCSU President Schmotter and Honors Program director Dr. Chris Kukk, and it was clear how much they cared about the students. Everyone I met — students and faulty — were all very welcoming and accepting. When I received a Merit scholarship, it seemed like an obvious choice to play volleyball at a school with great people that wouldn't leave me in a lot of debt." Smith attended WestConn right out of high school and graduated in 3 1/2 years.
When she first enrolled, Smith didn't know what she wanted to major in. "I wanted a discipline that was broad enough to give me a lot of options after graduation," she says. She decided upon psychology because "psychology is so widely applicable and exposed me to different career paths, whether it be mental health, counseling, business, case management or academics."
Smith says her volleyball coach, Don Ferguson, "has been a great mentor to me throughout college and even now after I graduated early. Whether we're talking about volleyball, grades or future plans, he has always taken the time and effort to help me. Since he was the one who recruited me to come to WestConn, I could tell he cared about making sure I was successful, just as he does with the rest of our team. It's nice to know you always have someone on your side."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Smith says, "Going to NCAA's with the women's volleyball team. My sophomore year we won the LEC conference and went to Stevens Institute of Technology for NCAAs and got to sightsee around Hoboken. Even though we ended up losing our game, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything."
Smith says her future plans call for working for a year or two before going back to school to earn a master's degree. "I plan on staying involved in academics and athletics, and hope to start a career in higher education to work within the athletic department at a college," she says.
Smith's advice to new students entering WCSU is: "The most important thing a freshman should know is that college gives you so many opportunities, so to take advantage of them. Go on the trips that are offered, join clubs or teams, go to on-campus events and get out of your comfort zone! When you graduate, you want more than just a degree, you want great memories and great experiences to look back on."