By India Pilgrim
Reinhardt gave Payton Smith ’17 ’19 the ability to explore different options for career paths, make new connections, live out her dreams and find her passion.
Smith graduated in 2017 with a degree in Sports Administration and a minor in Business Administration. During this time, she fulfilled her dream of playing on the basketball team.
She went on to complete her Master of Business Administration in 2019. While completing her master’s degree, she remained involved at Reinhardt, serving as the graduate assistant coach for the women’s basketball team and an adjunct professor for the Sport Studies program as the basketball and weight training coach.
Originally, Smith wanted to be a collegiate women’s basketball coach, but through classes and opportunities she was presented, she developed a newfound love for marketing and decided to pursue that path instead.
Now, she works as the Director of Operations/Client Relations for Atlanta SEO Pro, a digital marketing firm. There she uses a principle she learned from Joe Mullins, associate professor of sport studies.
“The most important thing you can do for yourself is network; always create opportunities for yourself by meeting new people and creating connections with everyone you meet because you never know who they are and what connections they might have.”
Since hearing this, Smith has incorporated it into her life and tries to pass the wisdom along to others.
“Since then, I have never missed an opportunity to introduce myself to someone to tell them who I am and what I do. I have met a numerous amount of people and have created connections everywhere that have benefited myself and them,” said Smith. “I have been in mentor situations since then where I pass along the same information to any student that I meet.”
Along with Mullins, other professors made a lasting impact on Smith’s life: Kelly Horton, instructor of sports studies, and Dr. Chip Campbell, assistant professor of marketing.
Horton’s compassion for her students and infectious character and attitude are what stuck out most to Smith.
“Mrs. Horton cared about every one of her students’ well-being, as well as the knowledge they left her class with. Her charismatic attitude she brought to class every day always gave me the drive to want to engage and learn more.”
Campbell was one of Smith’s professors in the master’s program. His classes provided real experience that was germane to business and inspired her to pursue a career in digital marketing.
“His class was extremely applicable to actual business and provided me with real experience in the marketing world,” said Smith. “He pushed me outside my comfort zone and assisted me in my job search after I graduated from Reinhardt. He has been there for me every step of the way and does the same for many of his students.”
Reinhardt holds a special place in Smith’s heart for many reasons. She was able to make connections with numerous people who helped her become who she is today. Smith learned valuable skills while at Reinhardt that she still uses to this day. Her Reinhardt connections go beyond the professional world, as she met her then-boyfriend, now-husband while on campus in 2013.
“As if all of those weren’t big enough blessings, I met my husband at Reinhardt University, and for that, I’m forever grateful,” said Smith. “I highly recommend anyone looking for a small university to attend Reinhardt; you won’t regret it.”