Laker High School 2019 graduate and valedictorian Andrew Smith will be speaking at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) commencement May 6 a the Breslin Center. Andrew was nominated for this honor, as he was selected for the CANR Outstanding Student Leadership Award.
“I was surprised and honored,” Andrew said of the nomination. “I accepted my nomination and submitted a portfolio detailing my leadership, extracurricular, and service involvements and awards during my four years at MSU. I was selected as a finalist and participated in a group panel interview to further discuss my involvements at MSU.”
He said he is honored to be able to represent Lakers and Huron County at the commencement.
“I must credit most of my success to my parents, Jeff and Sandi Smith,” he noted. “They set the example of how to work hard, serve others, and make meaningful relationships. Yet, I also must thank my extended family, friends, teachers, Laker staff, classmates, and my community. Getting here would not have been possible without the support, values, and purpose I gained from them.”
Andrew will be graduating from MSU with two degrees: Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Education and Agribusiness Management. He will have a minor in Environmental Studies. He will be graduating with the “honors” designation as he is part of the Honors College.
He said his speech is a work in progress, but he plans to talk about the challenges his class faced and overcame during the past four years, as well as how the challenges have prepared them to be the leaders of the future.
“Additionally, I want to make the speech personalized to our college,” he said. “I believe that the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is unique in its values, skills, and mindset. I want to share with my class how we can use these unique differences to be leaders in our careers and communities to make a better world.”
As the Laker Class of 2019 Valedictorian, Andrew gave a speech at his high school graduation. He said his college commencement speech will have a broader approach than his high school speech.
“Lakers was special because we had such a small class where everyone knew everyone, and we all shared our journey together,” he said. “I could mention stories and memories in high school and everyone would get what I was referencing. At MSU … I do not want to tell my story, but rather the shared experience and value that we as a class had at MSU and will continue to have after graduation.”
Andrew will actually be attending two commencements at MSU – the one for the college he attended and the spring convocation that will include all spring graduates across all MSU programs. While he will not be speaking at the spring convocation for all graduates, he will be recognized for his academic achievements at MSU.
During his time at MSU, Andrew has enjoyed a number of accomplishments, such as being able to plan and facilitate the Agriculture and Natural Resource Olympics for the clubs in CANR to compete at, serving and motivating Michigan FFA students across the state as a state officer, and the brotherhood and friendship he gained through his fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho.
“I am blessed to have had a full college career,” he said.
After graduation, Andrew will be moving to Washington, D.C. at the end of May. He will be working at the Aluminum Association as its Regulatory Affairs Manager. In this position, he will lead the association’s environmental, health, and safety portfolios. He interned at the association last summer, and he’s excited to be returning.
Andrew said he’s thankful for growing up in Laker Country.
“There is no other place I would have rather grown up in other than in the EPBP community and Lakers,” he said. “Every classmate and teacher left some impact on me. Lakers gave me a love for learning, extracurricular involvement, and stepping outside my comfort zone. Without these passions, I would be nowhere near as successful or fulfilled at MSU. Most importantly, Lakers and the greater EPBP community taught me what servant leadership is. Our community is interconnected, charitable, and service-orientated. It really takes a village to raise a kid, and I would not have been able to get where I am today without the investment in me that came from every direction back home. Whether it’s MSU or my career, I will take these values everywhere I go to make the world a bit more like our Laker family.”
By the way, there is another Laker grad who spoke at her CANR commencement – our very own Haley (Schulz) Cucinello! She graduated from MSU in 2015 with a degree in environmental studies and sustainability and agriscience. She is now our Laker ag teacher and FFA adviser. She was one of Andrew’s teachers!