College of Education and Human Development wordmark.

Emily Smith2014 Rising Alumni

Emily Smith photo

Emily Smith left a job with a Fortune 500 company in Minneapolis to dedicate her professional career to closing the achievement gap and fully engaging the community around her. She now resides in Dallas teaching kindergarten and will be pursuing a master's degree for urban educational leadership. Emily's long-term goal is to be in school leadership, where she will continue to apply her strength, passion, and strong work ethic to help address the needs of her students and community.


Kindergarten Instructional Leader
Uplift Education

What skills are important to succeed as a young professional today?

Resiliency. Being able to bounce back from challenges and having humility around failure will take you very far. We are all human. Humans make mistakes. Thus, we should not beat ourselves up over missteps, but rather learn from them.

Embrace ambiguity. Unlike your life up until you graduate college, you will quickly come to realize the "real world" throws you many curveballs, sometimes on a daily basis. Being able to adjust to these curveballs and change course is key. The only constant in life is change.

Relationships are the currency of power. Being able to authentically build relationships is the most important aspect of being successful in your career. Building relationships does not necessarily just mean networking. It is taking an active interest in those around you and putting effort into maintaining those relationships.

What is a good book you would recommend to others?

My favorite book in the entire world is Jenny Blake's Life After College. It is a practical and engaging guide that helps you negotiate the real world and covers subjects from navigating your passions to finances to dating!

What was the impact and benefit of your experience in CEHD?

The most impactful benefit of my educational experience comes from CEHD's mission to make a difference in the lives of others. There is a very strong presence of community within the college and that comes from fellow students, professors, and academic advisory staff. The commonality amongst all of this community is that everyone shares a passion for both serving others and finding outlets to make a difference.

What gets you excited about work?

The best part of waking up in the morning is knowing I get to spend my day with 25 kindergarten scholars learning and laughing! They are the most brilliant, hardworking, humorous, and some of the strongest children I know. I am inspired daily because of their resilience, courage, and optimism in the face of what they have overcome. Teaching is the most challenging thing I have ever done, but there are so many moments and experiences within a day that make the work I do very worthwhile and gratifying. I believe everyone deserves to have a career that adds an immense amount of genuine joy to their lives.