This week’s 5 Questions Friday spotlight shines on an alum who remains very connected to campus, but in ways he might not have imagined. In addition to a host of other roles, Dr. Michael Smith serves as an emergency medicine physician.
What is your agriculture background?
I grew up on a four-generation family farm in Newman, which is about 30 miles from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. I was very involved with both 4-H and FFA throughout the years and served as the Illinois Section 17 FFA president my senior year.
How did ACES prepare you for your career?
I planned to pursue a career in agricultural law. During my freshman year, a biology class taught by a cancer researcher fascinated me and caused a fundamental shift in my career goals. It turned out that ACES remained a great pre-professional resource, even though my plans had changed so dramatically. My ability to pursue premedical studies through this admittedly non-traditional undergraduate college was significantly enhanced by participation in the UIUC Campus Honors Program.
What is most memorable about ACES?
My favorite memories revolved around student organizations and in gaining some of the best friends of my life. I was a four-year member of the Varsity Men’s Glee Club, and performing with them on football weekends and at concerts throughout the Midwest was an incredible opportunity.
What advice do you have for high school juniors and seniors considering what to do after graduation?
There is no better investment one can make in life than to invest in one’s own education. A university degree comes at a cost, in terms of both dollars and effort. But the career rewards that become possible after completing that degree are both profound and life-long.
How do you stay connected with the University of Illinois today?
I am an associate clinical professor in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, the medical director of the Illinois Fire Service Institute, and the EMS medical director of Memorial Stadium and the Illinois Marathon. The university remains a central part of my life on a daily basis.
Want to spotlight ACES? Volunteer yourself or suggest others for 5QF at firstname.lastname@example.org.