Words by Anna Lee Vaughn | Image by Al Blanton
Jasper High School student Luke Smith will soon be off to Columbia University in New York City, where he will major in neuroscience on a pre-med track and minor in computer science.
When asked about the paths that led him to the prestigious institution, Luke credits his family, saying that they have always encouraged him to achieve academically.
“I would say it was a combination between my grandmother and my parents when I was young,” he says. “My dad encouraged work ethic and integrity. My grandmother, June, had me read every day and do workbooks through the Summer, and as I got older, my mom, Wendy, encouraged me to read challenging texts and novels that expanded my horizons more. She also ensured that my sister and I had opportunities to travel, enjoy the arts, and experience new people and places to broaden our understanding of the world.”
Luke also says that his recent achievements on the American College Testing (ACT) Exam played a role in his acceptance to Columbia. With a Superscore of 34 and composite score of 33 on the ACT, Luke says that lots of hard work has been poured into this achievement. When asked what it took to do well on the ACT, Luke had one word: practice.
“I think I took around ten practice tests over six weeks,” Luke recalls. “That practice helped so much because the ACT is an endurance game. Practicing really motivated me to do well.”
Luke also highlights his involvement in various activities like the JHS Swim Team and Boy’s State, as well as the valuable experience he gained outside of school through land surveying with his father Lamar, interning with Congressman Robert Aderholt in D.C., and working at Koslin and Kahn Oral and Facial Surgery. He says that these experiences have honed his people and time management skills and equipped him with the necessary preparation for the challenges of the real world.
As he sets out on his journey to Columbia, Luke’s ultimate goal is to become a neurosurgeon, although he says it is possible this goal could change.
“It’s a goal I have set for myself to motivate me, but a lot can change between now and then. I would like to go to medical school, but beyond that, I’m keeping an open mind.”
We at the Walker Leader congratulate Luke on this outstanding milestone and look forward to seeing what he does next! WL