When DeAndre Smith transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas College in his sophomore year, he knew it was the right decision.
“I fit right in as soon as I stepped foot on campus,” he says. “I made friends right away, and it felt like home.”
A dedicated student-athlete since high school, DeAndre’s love of track and field, and high jumping in particular put him on the pathway to college at a time when he wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to head in. He says that his move to STAC rewarded him with a great athletic program, a supportive coaching staff, and his own high jump coach, too. All of his hard work and intensive training paid off—DeAndre has broken records, made it to the nationals, and gone All-American in track.
“Finding who I wanted to be, discovering my ethics and principles and sticking with them, and going All-American in the track are my biggest accomplishments,” he says. “It takes time and patience and it will break you down, and might hurt your confidence. It takes a lot, but you have to have a good mindset and keep pushing yourself.”
His determination and personal achievements made possible by a healthy mindset are among the reasons DeAndre decided to major in psychology, a pursuit that also provides the foundations for several different careers, including business.
Since he was 18, DeAndre dreamed of opening his own restaurant, and the firsthand experience he’s been gaining on the job at the local eatery Yard House, where he’s a host, is helping to shape his future vision. There’s no doubt that the drive and work ethic he’s developed throughout his athletic career will pay dividends when DeAndre begins his next chapter as a businessman and entrepreneur.
“I’ve been thinking about Caribbean food and soul food,” says DeAndre, who already has ideas for his future establishment’s staff and eclectic menu. “I’m not that good of a cook, but everyone in my family can cook, and I want to get them involved.”
Certainly, his college journey has given DeAndre many opportunities to develop his communication skills, which will also be essential in his career in business.
“Over the time that I have known Dre, he has consistently impressed me in that he asks interesting and thoughtful questions, responds diplomatically when other students make statements with which he disagrees and demonstrates a positive attitude and can-do spirit,” says Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Benjamin Wagner, DeAndre’s college advisor.
Appreciating different points of view is an ability that’s important in another of DeAndre’s many interests: art. In fact, Art Therapy was one of his favorite classes at STAC to date. A poet himself, he appreciates how all art is subjective. “Art is a means of expression. It tells a story, but it doesn’t always tell the same story,” he says. “One person might see one thing, and I might see another. That’s the most beautiful thing about art.”
Originally from Brentwood, Long Island, DeAndre loves learning new things, and pursuing an advanced degree in business may also be in his future. He plans to travel and live in four different cities: Boston, New York, Chicago, and Paris. When he has time to relax, he spends time with his cat Pete and enjoys watching Harry Potter movies and reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond.