Meet Ms. Smith, Cultural Diversity Student Advocate

Meet Ms. Smith, Cultural Diversity Student Advocate

Lexy Simpson, Writer

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a forensics scientist. I used to watch NCIS all the time, and I absolutely loved Abby. I loved who she was as a person, and I loved how hard she worked to make sure she was great at her job. Her attitude was always positive, and she was always willing to help others. I really loved science and finding the different clues and use of technology was fascinating.


Smith at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

 What did you go to school for?

I went to the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh, and I majored in Sociology and minored in [both] African American studies and Women and Gender studies with a certificate in Social Equity and Diversity.  


What do you like to do in your free time?

During my free time, I love to watch TedTalks [and] documentaries or find different ways to improve my business or my next move. I launched a boutique last year, and I am currently on the verge of a relaunch. I used to work in the music industry, but I still dip and dab into different projects when I can. I love playing on Canva to make different graphics whether it’s a flyer or some type of marketing material needed. I use it as a stress reliever! It is kind of like coloring because you unconsciously focus on your masterpiece.


10 years ago did you see yourself working with high school students? If not, where did you see yourself?

No, I did not actually. I wanted to sell real estate in the South and open a non-profit. I don’t know what kind of non-profit, but at the time my uncle had just started Justice Point, so I was talking with him about helping me with some ideas. 


Describe your typical day at Oshkosh North.

When I get into my office, I plug in my laptop charger and my second screen. I start to get my essential oil thingy going and turn on my hip hop Lo-Fi on YouTube. Every night, I create a to-do list so I make sure everything is completed, and if I need help with something, I ask right away. Depending on the day, I may be in meetings. I have check-ins with some of my students as well. During lunch, I just walk through the cafeteria to get to know everyone and talk to the students to see how their day is going.

Most of the time I never take lunch for myself because I prefer to multitask, so I will eat all throughout the day (I also love snacking/eating/food period). If I do take a lunch break, I will eat and start a Netflix documentary or read different articles on current events. In the afternoon, I continue check-ins, or I will go around and sit in some classes. Sometimes I observe and sometimes I simply just sit in the class to fulfill my need for learning at least one thing for the day. I still have yet to sit in a Sociology class, and I cannot wait!! Sometimes some of my kids will come to see me and tell me about their day. Other than that, I am drafting up new ideas and modifying existing ones to be greater to bring to North. Then I pack up and go home.


What has been your most difficult challenge this year?

On a professional level, I think it would be finding my place in the world. You know they say when you graduate from college, you will have a nice job, house, car, family, etc. –and that has not been the case for me. I found a job, and it was great, but financially it was not helping me. I moved back to MKE and had my loft lined up and ready to go, but when I went to fill out the paperwork, things fell through. I had to temporarily stay with my grandmother and buy storage for all of the stuff I accumulated living on my own during college – it was a mess. Trying to navigate where I belong while also understanding I still have time to figure me out has been very difficult, but I also understand it is just a part of life. So I think ultimately finding and unlocking new and dormant parts of me has been my most difficult challenge so far.


I know you just wrapped up Black History Month at North, What was your biggest success?

I think my biggest success as  Ahveon would be pushing my limits and standing up for what I believe in. When I say that, I mean it took a while for me to have enough confidence to stand up for me and my identity. I was slightly intimidated before coming to North because I knew they have never done anything on that scale before, so I did not know what to expect. As an advisor for BSU, I would say my biggest success was coordinating the event so that the students could showcase their talents and let people in on our culture.


What do you think about the naming of the new middle school after Vel Phillips, a black female lawyer?

When I heard of the naming, I definitely sent it along to my BSU folks at the university. However, when I watched the board meeting, some of the comments made me question some of the members on that committee. As I was watching, there were some comments that were made that I responded to. One of the biggest ones being, “Well we need to put our money where our mouth is.” When that statement was made, it was in regards to the fact the board spoke about making space for more representation and that itself was taken as it being turned into a “Black and White” issue. That rubbed me the wrong way for a number of reasons, [so] I just commented a few things under the stream to voice my frustration but also my appreciation for Kris Karns. He was honestly the driving force for the decision being made for the naming by putting forth the motion for it to be Vel Phillips. I was always taught if you stand for nothing, you fall for anything, and he displayed true ally-ship at that moment.


Does the BSU plan on doing anything in the next few months or even in the upcoming school year?

Absolutely. We do have some fun events we will be opening up for the entire school. We also plan on collaborating with other multicultural organizations here at North. We have also been challenged by members of the school board to have the assembly be an annual event so that is my goal. I just want to create something sustainable for them to fall back on. 

How would you explain your personal style?

 It depends. I love Jordans, but I also love heels and sandals. It isn’t where you get your clothes but how you wear them and piece them together. I love to get dressed up or honestly evening dressing down. It is easy to throw together a jogging suit with some nice sneakers and maybe some bamboo earrings and a bucket hat with a color lipstick and a cool purse. I give off a mix of New York and Atlanta vibes, and when I lived in New York, they also agreed! I love fashion. I can get an entire outfit from Walmart or Goodwill and make it look like I got it from Forever 21 or something. They say it’s not on you, it’s in you. Plus it does not help that I am friends with celebrity stylists, so they are some of my inspos [inspirations] as well, and when or if I need help, I will call them. 


What is your favorite genre of music?

My favorite genre of music is R&B, Hip-hop, and L0-Fi. They all hold very rich roots.


What hobbies do you participate in during your free time?

Making designs on Canva, practicing content creation, playing with my dog, listening to podcasts and music, and finding flights I want to book even though I may not have the money. Also hanging out with friends. A lot of people don’t know that I don’t live in Oshkosh. I actually live in Milwaukee and commute everyday (except when the weather is bad), so there are a ton of different things to do there. I love to meditate and practice different spiritual awakening techniques. One of my mentors owns a healing center in Milwaukee, so I am there pretty often receiving Chakra Alignments or sound baths. I also typically am on Club House which is one of the biggest networking apps out right now. It was exclusively invite-only for a while but not too long ago opened up to the public. It is a great app to meet people from ALL walks of life and even put your expertise out there as well. I have sat in rooms with Erykah Badu, Joe Biden, top producers, top Bitcoin and crypto-currency investors, amazing educators, and many more. It is really a great and beneficial app if used properly.

Smith’s dog, Koro, at the park


Do you feel welcomed at Oshkosh North?

I do feel welcomed at Oshkosh North –at least by those I have met so far. I have been supported when it comes to different events and concerns. I feel safe enough to where if I have an issue about something or concerns that I can go to my team and address them without being judged.