This week we are highlighting some of the members of the Class of 2020 as part of our #HumansOfLongwood series. While formal commencement exercises won’t take place until October 9 and 10 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our graduating seniors officially earn their degrees May 16. Wherever life after Longwood takes them—a new job, graduate studies or an internship—these students reflect the goals and achievements made possible in a close-knit community that promotes student involvement, values inclusion and nurtures citizen leadership in whatever form it takes.

Shaunah Smyre ’20
Hometown: Richmond
Major: Social work
Next Steps: Pursuing a master’s degree in film, radio and television production at Syracuse University

Longwood has given me so many opportunities and platforms to develop lifelong skills. I held leadership positions in several of the organizations I got involved in, like the Student Government Association, Longwood Ambassadors, Residential and Commuter Life Advisory Board, Student Diversity and Inclusion Council, NAACP, BASIC Gospel Choir and True Blue: Stomp and Shake Team.

The social work program required me to do two internships. I interned at a local residential family services provider and as a counselor in an alternative day school treatment center. I developed professional skills and confidence that I will take with me as I enter graduate school next month. I’m starting a master’s program in film, radio and television production at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications—one of the nation’s most prestigious communications schools.

A faculty member I consider a mentor is Dr. Erica Brown-Meredith ’95. She pushed me to achieve academically as well as to step out of my personal comfort zone. With her support, I was able to make a community-outreach idea become a reality, and we collected over 100 backpacks filled with school supplies for students at Prince Edward County Elementary School. Using my social work experience, my goal is to one day open a community center for young women and girls who are living in a low socioeconomic-status community. My hope is to be able to help them find the resources to achieve success.

In 2019, I was fortunate to attend the South Africa study abroad experience with Dr. Jennifer Miskec. I had never traveled outside the country before, and it was mind-opening. We learned about how the youth culture has been affected since the end of apartheid, and we got to see how generational poverty had impacted many of the racial groups in the country.

My favorite memory from the past four years was being asked to perform as Klown during Oktoberfest. Being spontaneous and fun and keeping the spirit of Longwood alive was a great experience. It is something I will cherish forever, just like my time at Longwood.

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