Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Jordan Smith Is On The Fast Track--Even if She'd Rather Be Taking the Hogwarts Express

Ask Jordan Smith, a rising senior at South Dakota State University and ASME intern at Inc. magazine, about her dream travel destination and she struggles to think of a personal paradise. (“Greece…maybe?”)  Ask her where she sees herself in five years, and she doesn’t even know where to begin. (“I hate these types of questions.”) But there’s one question she answers without hesitation:

“If you could interview one person, dead or alive, who would it be?”

“J.K. Rowling.”

“Why?”

“Because she’s a badass…her books inspire and define our generation…she pursued her dreams even though she was homeless and writing on napkins.”

You see, Smith’s not your casual Harry Potter reader. She describes her collection of all seven hard cover Harry Potter books as her most-prized possession. Of course she’s attended her fair share of midnight book releases and movie showings, but her eye for detail makes her stand out from even the most Hogwarts-obsessed muggles. That cluster of stars tattooed on her ankle? Those are actually the stars that appear on the pages of each book in the Harry Potter series.

If there’s one thing Smith is, it’s dedicated. When she likes something, she likes it, and she’ll pursue her dreams with a fierce work ethic.

That’s not to say that she might take a while to find her path. Smith had always imagined herself pursuing teaching or engineering, but she became intrigued by journalism after her friend, a photo editor at SDSU’s newspaper, The Collegian, dragged her to a newspaper meeting freshman year. “I just fell in love with newspaper culture,” says Smith. “My favorite thing about journalism is being able to be on the front lines, and find out things before the general public.”

Jordan Smith with her dog, Buzz. Although she doesn't know where she wants to live after graduation, Smith wants it to be "Somewhere where I have unlimited access to great coffee but small enough that I have a yard for my dog."

Sometimes, that means putting herself in uncomfortable situations. One of Smith’s first breaking news stories was on bats found in the residence halls. The school’s administration hadn’t even heard about it yet, but Smith overheard two students complaining about it to a secretary and decided to go up and ask them about it. Despite her fear that “these kids are going to think I’m so weird,” Smith knew she had to get the story. When an SDSU student died in a car crash on the way back from spring break, it was a difficult situation for the students to wrap their minds around. Nonetheless, it was Smith’s job to report on it, and she did so without hesitation, earning a thank you note from the student’s family after the piece ran.

It’s this desire to push herself that led Smith to New York City for the summer. Her favorite day in New York City so far involved attending a Keith Urban concert in the morning, stopping by Glamour magazine for an ASME lunch, and getting her first article published at her internship, all before the end of the work day.
While Smith undertakes a lot as the editor-in-chief of The Collegian, she still manages to find the time to work two jobs during the school year. She admits that she probably takes on too many responsibilities, but it’s a stressful environment that Smith will find herself in time and time again.

“Jordan isn’t afraid to laugh at herself and makes those around her laugh and can always lighten the mood in a stressful situation,” says her friend Maddi Anderson, the managing editor at The Collegian. “In addition, she handles pressure very well. In our jobs, there is always the pressure of the deadline and the various staff issues that arise and she always handles them with dignity and intelligence as well as a good sense of humor.”

Anderson and Smith met last year in their respective roles at The Collegian, bonding on a trip to New Orleans for a journalism conference, especially after attending a session related to, what else, Harry Potter and journalism.  But with a dedication that shines through in everything she does, Smith doesn’t need to rely on magic to make it in the journalism world.

Written by Anna Hensel, Creighton University, Inc.
Edited by Andy Zunz, University of Central Florida, Field & Stream

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