Shinique Smith

Shinique Smith
Brooklyn, NY
Year of Graduation

Why SUNY Oneonta?

Well, I chose Oneonta in 2011 and I graduated from high school a year after, but it wasn't until 2016 that I matriculated at the college. I had just graduated with my first degree, in fashion design, so I actually came into the school in 2016. I’m a non-traditional student, so coming here was very different for me. I left my mom and dad’s house when I was 15 years old and had all these odd jobs, and my own apartment. So for me, coming back to college was like, “Oh my god, I get to be a student again.” I had worked my butt off and gone to school full time, and then I got to SUNY Oneonta and I’m like, “Oh snap, there’s laundry here? I don’t have to pay for laundry? There’s a pool?” It was crazy. I was ecstatic.

Best Experiences

Meeting Bryan Stevenson when he came to SUNY Oneonta to deliver the Mills Distinguished Lecture. I’m listening to this man and I'm bawling. Just all the things he was saying. The thing he said that really touched me the most is that the people who are going to change the broken laws are the broken people. I cried and I could not stop crying until the lights came on. It was the validation I needed that I had chosen the right major and was on the right path.

About My Major

It took some digging. I came in thinking I would do fashion. But I came here and I said, “I want something else.” I knew I had this love of activism and standing up for what's right and addressing what's wrong. I immediately got into Child and Family Studies. Karen Joest was and is a great mentor. It was because of her that I fell in love with that major, but I eventually realized I don’t want to work with kids. I went over to Career Development, and I spoke with a young woman there – I think she was my guardian angel or something. I said, “I’m into social justice work and I want to change the world.” She gave me three packets to look at, and one was for Africana and Latinx Studies. Looking at the courses I’d be taking, I just couldn’t put the paper down. And that's how I chose the major just after doing some soul-searching and being like, “OK, what are you really here for?”

Plans, Goals, Dreams

Right now I am in between, and I'm going to take a semester off because I'll be applying for August graduate admissions. I’m between history, African-American studies and law, and right now, law is sounding real good.

What I’ll Remember in 20 Years

My first piece of activism was at the Oneonta Women's March in 2016. I mean, I'm sure I did it in many ways by just standing up for others and so on, but this was my first outward move as an activist. I got in front of all of the locals that were gathered, you know, whether they agreed with what we were doing or not. And we marched, and it was beautiful.

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