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School of Arts and Sciences

Alumni Profile: Gary Smith, high school English teacher

Point Park graduate Gary Smith teaches English at South Fayette High School. | Photo by Jim Judkis

Meet Gary Smith

Major and degrees earned: B.A. English/Secondary Education
Year of graduation: 2001
Occupation and current employer: English teacher and department chair, South Fayette High School
Hometown: Glassport, Pa.
Now living in:  South Park, Pa. 

Why did you choose to attend Point Park?

Educationally, I originally was interested in acting, and Point Park had a great program in which you could take both theater and education credits. Personally, I loved the idea that I could be close enough to my home that I could go there if I needed, but I was far enough away that I could live in the dorms and begin to grow as an individual. On top of that, I could live in Downtown Pittsburgh -- Point Park was too good to pass up!

How did Point Park help you prepare for your career?

I left the theater program after just three semesters to focus on becoming a high school teacher. The education program was excellent; I had a wide array of classes that focused on both the theory and practicality of teaching, and my professors were so diverse that I was able to begin to see my future career from many different angles and consider what it truly meant to be a teacher. My literature professors were insightful, intellectual, and approachable, and because of that, I left with a content knowledge that I still find to be exceptional.

What was your most beneficial experience at Point Park?

When I think of what "benefited" me at Point Park, my thoughts come back to living in the dorms. Don't get me wrong, the education I received was excellent, but so much of college is the social concept of becoming your own person. Though I completely understand that some students, for financial or other reasons, have chosen not to live in the dorms wherever they go to school, for me, a positive dorm-life experience helped make me become who I am today. I always say that if you don't live on campus, "college" is just "high school" spelled differently.

What is your favorite memory at Point Park?

I know it sounds cliche, but there are too many to list. Educationally, I took as many literature classes with Dr. Robert Lewis as I could, and those were by far the best times in the classroom I ever had as a student. The man is so charismatic and intelligent that it's difficult not to want to listen to him. I still use my notes from his class to shape my lectures and discussions. As far as more "fun" memories, I will never forget the Jimmy's Pizza college special that my roommate of three years and I ordered nearly every single night. I also will never forget the enormous amount of weight it helped me to pack on during those years!

What advice do you have for today's students?

Enjoy it! Really, that's the best advice anyone can give you. Soak up every moment of living on your own and the soul-searching that comes with this period of often new-found independence. Enjoy the atmosphere of one of the greatest cities in this country. Enjoy the classes you take, and do your best to try to stay organized and keep notes, papers, syllabi, and textbooks -- you never know when your future profession might require you to reacquaint yourself with something you learned in college. Enjoy every single moment you get to spend at Point Park because someday you're going to want those moments back!