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SHSU's Smith Receives
Highest FFA Honor in Texas

miriam smith
Miriam Smith

Sam Houston State sophomore Miriam Smith rarely finds herself at a loss for words, especially when it comes to her true passion - the Future Farmers of America organization.

Smith, an award-winning public speaker, has been a member of the FFA since she was a freshman at Liberty High School in 1996, and has continued to spend most of her time contributing to its cause.

All of her hard work paid off in a big way at the 73rd Annual Texas FFA convention held July 10-13 in Houston, as she was named the "Star of Stars," the highest honor given in the Texas FFA organization.

She received the award after already being named the winner of the Star American Production Award, an award given to the most productive FFA member in the state. A special committee chose Smith for the "Star of Stars" over a group of individuals competing for the Star Lone Star and Star American awards. It was because of her many experiences within Texas FFA that she was chosen. She will go on to Louisville, Ky. to compete in the national convention.

As well as finding out she was named the "Star of Stars," she also discovered that Ford Motor Company sponsored the award and was rewarding her with a $5,000 scholarship to be used toward education or a new Ford vehicle.

She chose to use it toward her continuing education.

"It caught me off guard," Smith said, noting this is the first year the award has been given. "I was unaware of it and my family was unaware of it. They rushed me back on stage and told me that they were just recognizing me one more time. The next thing I know, I'm rushed across stage and handed a big cardboard check.

"Coming from a major industry such as Ford Motor Company, who is a huge backbone of our country in industry, that was pretty cool," she added.

That wasn't where it ended, however. In the same week, Smith was awarded the John Justin Boot "Standard of the West" scholarship in the amount of $3,000. Criteria for the award is based on a member's integrity, honesty, helpfulness, perseverance, grades and school attendance.

Smith is definitely no stranger to receiving awards within the FFA. She competed in public speaking all four years of high school, taking third place in state her freshman year and claiming the state title her senior year.

In November 2000, she brought home a bronze medal from the National Prepared Public Speaking competition after competing against representatives from all 50 states.

Growing up on a small farm, Smith raised cattle, goats and swine and was an active participant in 4-H. Over the span of 10 and a half years, she showed her numerous projects all across Texas and won many Grand and Reserve Champions with her livestock entries.

She enjoys hanging out with her friends and family as well as jet skiing. However, her true passion is giving speeches that encourage young people.

"I travel and do motivational speeches at high schools and middle schools," Smith said. "I try to teach students to reach for their dreams because that's what I'm doing. I wasn't always the richest girl who had all the popular stuff, but I knew what my dreams were and I set them high."

Smith plans on continuing her public speaking. She is a sophomore at Sam Houston State, majoring in agriculture. She plans to earn her masters and Ph.D. in agricultural communications. While in school, she wants to work for a major industry in the U.S., doing public relations and marketing.

Once she completes her coursework, she hopes to teach in higher education.

"I've always had a passion to teach college," she said. "I always thought that would be pretty cool."

Smith credits most of her success to her family as well as teachers she has had over the years, namely her high school agriculture teacher, Keith Ming, and her current boss and college professor, Robert Lane.

"I entered Sam and became really close with my professors here," Smith said. "They are really pushing me to achieve my dreams. A lot of them have inspired me to become an agricultural professor."

Her parents were never in to FFA before she joined her freshman year, but now things have changed. Smith said her family has never missed her give a speech, show livestock, or really anything else for that matter.

Her brother, Tom, is a model and writes screenplays. He also builds modern furniture out of wood and welding fabrications and plans to open his own business in the near future.

"We are like oil and water," Miriam said. "Besides my parents and teachers, he's my main supporter. He's the one that stands by me and pushes me to reach for my dreams, no matter how odd they are."

Smith said she may not look the part of a person who enjoys agricultural, but she knows God called on her to use her talents and beliefs for a worthy cause.

"Many people when they look at me don't believe I'm in agriculture," she said. "I'm not the typical cowgirl, but I think agriculture is building our future, so I'm promoting it."

It looks like she's off to a great start.

- END -

SHSU Media Contact: Brandon Autrey
July 20, 2001
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