Honorary Class Speaker

2017 Honorary Class Speaker

Gabrielle Smith, a math major, has been selected as honorary student speaker for Commencement 2017 at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

The 21-year-old Manassas, Virginia resident arrived at UVa-Wise four years ago and quickly earned a reputation across campus for her strong work ethic in the classroom and in the undergraduate research program. Smith, along with her faculty mentor James Vance, spent two years driving a specific route through Southwest Virginia surveying wildlife collisions with vehicles. The road kill study uses a logistic regression analysis to identify hot spots for wildlife collisions so mediation measures may be taken if viable. Ironically, as a youngster, Smith, when on long trips with her mother, would pass the time by pointing out the variety of road kill they would encounter on roadways.

A born teacher, Smith tutors math and Spanish on campus, worked with the Summer Bridge Program, and, as a licensed educator, teaches math at Union High School as a long-term substitute.

Smith, who graduated from Stonewall Jackson High, plays piano, sings, and has participated in several theater productions on campus. A self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, Smith has enjoyed her time living in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.

She enjoys life on a small campus because of the close ties that are formed with students, faculty and staff. Smith, a member of the Sigma Zeta Honor Society, says she will always treasure the times that she and her fellow math majors would sit in the atrium in the second floor of Darden Hall and discuss all aspects of mathematics.

“It’s a family,” she said. “We became a close-knit family, just sitting with like-minded people talking about math.”

Smith, who wants to teach mathematics while continuing research, has applied to begin a Ph.D. program in genetics, bioinformatics and computational biology at Virginia Tech.