Daiyonna Smith

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When sophomore Daiyonna Smith moved to Texarkana from Virginia, she already knew she wanted to go back to school someday.

“When I moved here, it was so much harder to find a job,” she said. “Everything was minimum wage, and I was working a lot to make nothing. When I got pregnant with my son, it became more important for me to go back to school, because my pay barely covered daycare.”

Daiyonna enrolled at TC at the tail end of her pregnancy.

“I had pre-eclampsia, so I was taking my blood pressure during class and had to leave a lot,” she said. “I was really sick, and my instructors were really supportive. I would sit in the front row with my feet propped up and my blood pressure cuff.”

Today, her son Jude is two, and Daiyonna has achieved a 3.8 GPA, been accepted to the Honors & Leadership Program, and has become president of the TC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. Daiyonna, a sophomore, is seeking an Associate of Arts in General Studies and plans to transfer to Texas A&M University-Texarkana to study elementary and special education.

“Texarkana College has pushed me farther than I thought I could go,” she said. “Anything is possible, especially here.”

Daiyonna spent three days last month at the 2013 Texas Honors Institute at Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas, a conference for the Phi Theta Kappa Texas Region. She and her peers heard from celebrated speakers including Jerry Woodfill, former Apollo 11 and 13 Warning System Engineer.

“He spoke about his tagline, ‘Failure is not an option,’” she said. “Another speaker talked about going out of your comfort zone to try new things. I used to be a really confident and social person, and since I’ve been home with my son, it has taken a whole lot to boost my confidence. PTK has really helped with that, and that speech really stuck with me.”

Many speakers at the Texas Honors Institute focused on the Honors in Action project. Every two years, PTK International chooses a study topic, and individual chapters choose subtopics to research and explore. Their research culminates in projects where they tackle a problem that exists in their research area.

While PTK chapters compete for awards and accolades, they foster a true sense of community.  Daiyonna said they exchanged ideas and shared advice.

“Phi Theta Kappa has such a great family feel, and the community was so supportive,” Daiyonna said. “We were only there for three days, but everybody became instant friends. We got really close. One thing that really struck me was the dance – you go to high school dances and they’re so cliquey, but here everybody was blended together. Didn’t matter how old you were, how normal, weird or smart. Nobody was left out.”

Daiyonna said her experiences with Phi Theta Kappa and Texarkana College have taught her this: you can truly do anything.

“If you can be a stay-at-home mom and have a toddler and still get a 3.8 GPA and be president of the honor society, you can pretty much do anything,” she said. “You just have to realize it’s there for you when you want it, and you have to be confident enough to go get it. With hard work and support, you can do anything.”

Daiyonna teaches a continuing education fitness course in Hoop Dancing. View a schedule and learn more about Continuing Education.

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PTK President