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Arnold School of Public Health

Staff Spotlight: Christy Smith, Director of Graduate Student Services

January 11, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Christy Smith’s first day as a staff member at the Arnold School also happened to be her birthday. She fell in love with the “big city” of Columbia when she moved to UofSC from her rural hometown in the low country to begin her bachelor’s degree, and she never left. 

“I feel like I grew up in the School of Public Health,” says Smith, who remembers when some of the current faculty members were students themselves. “I got married, lost a parent, and had two children since I started working here 22 years ago. My oldest will be starting college next year, and my hope is that she will join a program that cares for its students as much as the Arnold School.”

Smith has always been in student and alumni services, working her way up to become Director of Graduate Students Services – a position she has held for the past seven years. Her team is responsible for recruitment, admissions and student services for all Arnold School graduate students, and they work closely with each of the academic units, as well as the UofSC Graduate School and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

My oldest will be starting college next year, and my hope is that she will join a program that cares for its students as much as the Arnold School.

-Christy Smith, Director of Graduate Student Services

“Since I took over the specific associate dean responsibilities for curriculum and program development, Christy has advised me on changes, explained the history of the School’s development, advised on past and present policies, and explained the strengths and limitations of our automated systems,” says James Hardin, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Curriculum Development. “Her office and her institutional knowledge are crucial to our success.”

Over the past two decades, much has changed in Smith’s everyday work. She remembers when paper applications and post card updates were the norm, and questions were handled through phone conversations and answering machines. In parallel with rise of technology, her office transformed into a paperless operation – sharing information via the website, tracking applications through online portals/databases, and communicating with prospective students on digital platforms. 

Smith has faced these many changes and challenges with a poise that she credits retired Director of Student/Alumni Services and Human Resources Angela Everett with helping her develop. Under Everett’s leadership, the Arnold School’s Office of Graduate Services was among the first at UofSC to pilot the Graduate School’s electronic admissions portal and join the inaugural cycle of the Schools of Public Health Application Service (SOPHAS).

“Angela encouraged my participation in school, university, and association committees,” Smith says. “She also encouraged me to ask questions and learn new ways of doing things and not to adopt the mentality of ‘that is how we have always done it’.”

It is especially meaningful when I am able to follow a student from their initial inquiry about our programs, through the life cycle of a student, and continue that relationship as they become alumni.

-Christy Smith, Director of Graduate Student Services

Smith’s day-to-day activities – whether it’s managing applications, fielding questions, or advising the Dean’s Student Advisory Council – all center around her favorite part of the job: the students. She loves getting to know these diverse individuals, many of whom come to UofSC from around the globe, and looks forward to celebrating each student at the annual hooding ceremony.

“Hooding is one of my favorite days of the year because it is a time when we can come together to honor our outstanding students and recognize their accomplishments,” Smith says. “It is especially meaningful when I am able to follow a student from their initial inquiry about our programs, through the life cycle of a student, and continue that relationship as they become alumni.”


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