When talking to Ureka Smith, you’ll pick up on her sense of serenity. It may be because in her 33 years she has had to make hard choices in life and she knows she can make it through. It may also be the fact that she knows her worth and refuses to settle for less.
“I left Ann Arbor when I was younger because I knew that my life was not headed in the right direction,” Smith said. “I moved to Cleveland to live with my sister. I got a good job in a manufacturing facility, was promoted and was doing well there until I got laid off. That was the first time that I felt disposable.”
She packed up her daughter and moved back to Ann Arbor, where she had a support system, and contemplated what she wanted out of life.
Finding her calling
“I realized that I was happiest when I was working with children,” Smith said. She enrolled at Washtenaw Community College and earned two associates degrees in Elementary Education and Liberal Arts Transfer. She was accepted at Eastern Michigan University and studied there while working part-time at an Ann Arbor elementary school.
It’s an accomplishment her family couldn’t be more proud of.
“I am the first in my family to go to college,” Smith said. “My daughter’s confidence has skyrocketed as she has seen me succeed.”
A testament to her strong drive for success, Smith is the recipient of multiple scholarships awarded by the WCC Foundation. The scholarships have helped her pay for her textbooks and other college expenses.
The WCC Foundation awards over 500 need-based scholarships to students each year. Scholarships are awarded three times each year, for Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer semesters.