Today@Sam Article

Commencement Spotlight: Jessica Smotherman

Dec. 14, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Crandall

“Commencement Spotlight” highlights SHSU's upcoming graduates with stories from Bearkats that demonstrate a “can-do” spirit through challenges and service. Visit today@sam/commencementspotlight to read more.

Jessica Smotherman
Houston, TX
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

Jessica Smotherman and Grad CapA criminal justice major at Sam Houston State University, Jessica Smotherman has closed a chapter of life that took her over 10 years to write. Despite the struggles, she has earned a bachelor’s degree and dedicated it to her mother.

In 2010, Smotherman dropped out to care for her mother who had become ill. In April 2011, her mother passed away. It was another 6 years before Smotherman felt ready to continue pursuing her education.

“I had to get myself together before I decided to commit to going back to school,” Smotherman said. “That meant finding steady employment, as well as getting my home life and everything situated the way I needed to.”

Smotherman has worked as an account manager for International Guard Services, based out of Houston, since 2013. After returning to her educational goals in 2017, she graduated from San Jacinto College in Dec. 2019 with an associate degree in social and behavioral science.

Smotherman then enrolled as a fully online student at SHSU, and she will pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice at SHSU beginning Spring 2022. Eventually, she hopes to become a behavioral analyst.

“While I don’t have law enforcement experience, I do have private security experience,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed the criminal justice program and all my professors here.”

Smotherman will be the second person in her immediate family to earn a degree and the first to pursue a graduate degree. Finishing what she started drives her to continue pursuing her goals as a nontraditional student.

“Even though I’m 33 and most people have it done in their 20s, it’s a big accomplishment,” Smotherman said. “It’s all about finishing what you start. If you believe you can do it, then you should go for it.”


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