March 31, 2005
Pre-nursing major from Mulvane named Cowley's April Student of Month
Whitney Smith has her sights set on becoming a registered nurse. En route toward that goal, she’d also like to wear a crown.
Smith, 19, a sophomore pre-nursing major from Mulvane, is Cowley College’s April Student of the Month. The daughter of Clark and Susan Smith has had a busy four semesters at Cowley and, recently got even busier when Smith began entering pageants in the region.
She was fourth runner-up at the Miss Arkansas Valley Pageant Feb. 26 in Belle Plaine.
“It just kind of happened,” Smith said. “One of (Director of Vocal Music) Connie Donatelli’s former students called her and asked if she had anyone interested in Miss Arkansas Valley. Connie immediately thought of me. I called the director and filled out the paperwork.”
Smith also competed in the Miss South Central Pageant March 19 in Derby.
“My goal is to become Miss Kansas in a few years,” said Smith, who is attending Cowley on a vocal music scholarship. “I’ve always wanted to do pageants. It all worked out all of a sudden.”
Smith’s time at Cowley has been rewarding, she said. Being named April Student of the Month is like icing on the cake.
“I was very excited about the award,” said Smith, who holds a 3.75 grade-point average. “It’s an honor to be chosen.
“A Student of the Month is somebody who is outgoing, caring and involved in the school. I hope that I meet that definition.”
By Student of the Month standards, Smith is exemplary. She is a member of Act One Drama Club, the Concert Choir, CC Singers, is a Student Ambassador, is a resident assistant in the Oscar Kimmell Dormitory, played the part of Rosemary in the fall musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and was stage manager in the spring play “The Foreigner.” She also has been named to the National Dean’s List and to Who’s Who Among Students at American Junior Colleges.
Smith also has been nominated for the Outstanding Student of Arkansas City award.
Smith was born in Stafford and lived briefly in Macksville before moving to Mulvane when she was 5. Her father works at Boeing, while her mother is an administrative assistant. She has one brother, Justin, 33.
As if Smith wasn’t busy enough, she also is active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Cowley County. Her “sister” is 14-year-old Lisa Stephens of Arkansas City, an eighth-grader also nominated for the Outstanding Student of Arkansas City award.
A 2003 graduate of Mulvane High School, Smith wasn’t planning on attending Cowley.
“I was originally going to Southwestern (College),” she said. “I had a great scholarship, but it still wasn’t enough.
“Connie was so excited when I auditioned at Cowley. Everybody I met was so nice. It’s been awesome. I don’t want to leave. I’ve been able to participate in musicals and get parts I never would have gotten at four-year schools. I’ve been handed some great opportunities. There was never any doubt in my mind that Cowley was right for me.”
Smith said she looks up to Donatelli for various reasons.
“She’s an amazing person,” Smith said. “She’s taught me so much, vocally and how to be a person. She’s very inspirational. Very strong. And she cares. She puts 150 percent into everything, expects that out of us and gets it out of her students.”
Smith also admires Cowley Director of Theatre Scott MacLaughlin.
“He’s so much fun to be around,” she said. “He expects the best out of people and he gets it. He’s a great guy.”
Smith has used her first two years of college to change as a person.
“I think I’ve changed a little bit,” Smith said. “I’m nice to everybody, but that’s just how I am. But I’m blunt now. Here, people take you for who you are. I can be myself. I’m a goofball. I’m a ditz. I trip all over myself. I feel like I’ve made a lot of friends.”
After Cowley, Smith hopes to transfer to Wichita State University to continue her nursing education. She’s passed entrance exams to WSU’s nursing program and is awaiting a decision.
“After that, I’d like to move to Washington, D.C., and work in George Washington Hospital in the intensive care unit, or something like that,” Smith said. “I went to Washington, D.C., with my parents during spring break my freshman year. I have an aunt and uncle who live there, and I just loved it.”
Smith said she became interested in nursing after having some health problems of her own throughout high school.
“I had great nurses,” she said. “I wanted to understand what was wrong with me. I want to help others who are in my place. I had great nurses who took care of me, and I want to be able to take care of people.”
Smith’s hobbies include reading and working with horses.
“I like to read, mainly fiction,” she said. “I love trashy romance novels, too. And I like to ride my horse a lot. Sometimes I ride with my dad.”
Smith is pleased that Cowley has been a part of her life.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life,” she said. “I love being in choir, in musicals and plays. I love living in the dorms and being with my friends. It’s been an all-around good time. Plus, I’ve learned so many things I didn’t know there was to learn.”