Jalen Smith is the new Manager for Outreach and Scholarships in the Office of the Dean at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Originally from Arkansas, Smith graduated from Seattle University in 2018 before moving across the country to promote student wellness at the University of Vermont. Now, they are back in Seattle and ready to improve the student experience at SPH with an eye toward equity, diversity and inclusion.
What do you hope to accomplish at SPH?
I hope to incorporate my philosophy that equity, diversity, inclusion and justice are all essential components to the student experience. I hope to challenge our students to inquire about their personal values — how they make sense of the world — and to ask questions that seek to tear down barriers in education.
Why are you passionate about improving student experiences?
Each of us carries a diverse story and has lived different experiences. I believe that working to promote student-focused environments within colleges and universities is essential in moving towards embracing our collective diversity. I hope to speak to each student’s diverse story and empower them to feel comfortable.
What was your role at the University of Vermont?
I worked in Residential Life as an area coordinator for the Wellness Environment. In this role, I supervised and advised graduate, undergraduate and full-time staff that worked together to promote overall wellness for the University's student population. We facilitated educational programming around the four pillars of wellness: body, mind, soul and heart.
You're an alum of Seattle University. Why did you decide to move back?
Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen. More than that, it’s growing so rapidly and with this growth comes an influx of ideas, creativity and innovation that’s hard to ignore. I love being part of a city environment that has so much rich history and continues pressing forward to the future.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love spending time with my kitty, Pearl. I also love hiking (Rattlesnake Ridge is the best!) and reading the best thriller novels that are available. I’m currently learning to knit.