STAR student Terries Smith hopes to help children

Published 12:37 am Wednesday, April 4, 2018

NATCHEZ — Four years ago, Tricia Lewis sent her daughter to Natchez Early College Academy.

“‘This will be good for you,’” Terries Smith said she remembers her mother saying.

Now, as a senior preparing to receive both her high school diploma and associates’ degree, Smith agrees.

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“I really love it here,” Smith said. “This is really college. You have to do it all for yourself.”

The combination of independence, responsibility and hard work she found at NECA, Smith said, prepares her for the future.

The Mississippi Economic Council M.B. Swayze Foundation recognized that hard work by naming Smith the STAR Student of the 2017-2018 school year.

The STAR program, founded in 1965, recognizes outstanding students and teachers throughout Mississippi.

STAR Students are selected based on academic performance both off of school averages and college preparatory tests.

This year, the foundation chose Smith.

“There are so many other students here who could have won the award,” Smith said. “I was really happy.”

The honor comes with an opportunity to receive scholarships, Smith said, which she hopes will further her goal of becoming a pediatrician.

“I just really love working with children, helping children,” Smith said. “I think it’s because of my inner child.”

Smith said her dream is to become a pediatrician and, after working for several years, open a children’s home or advocacy center, where she could help children not just physically but in their home life, as well.

“I could operate a children’s home and really help people,” she said. “I think about it a lot. It’s always in the back of my mind.”

Though pediatrics was not her first dream job, Smith said she believes it will be her last.

“I used to think I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon or a physical therapist,” she said. “Now I know what I want to be.”

Smith wants to go to Mississippi State University for her pre-med requirements. After receiving the award, Smith said an MSU representative contacted her and said a scholarship just for STAR Students existed.

“I think it’s really going to help,” she said.

Though her dreams are set and she is readying to achieve them, Smith said she has a back up plan.

“If I cannot be a doctor, I think I would like to be a social worker,” she said. “I want to help children. Anything to help children.”