Alumni Spotlight | Smith family
YVC provides springboard for success to siblings Mark, Kim and Craig
Some institutions of higher education make an impact on the lives of individuals and their families long after they’ve walked the halls, grabbed lunch in the cafeteria, spent hours studying and completed their training. For Mark Smith and his siblings that institution was Yakima Valley College.
Smith’s sister Kim, the eldest of the Smith brood, attended YVC starting in 1974 and studied radiologic sciences. After earning her degree, she spent her career working at Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.
Starting in the Fall of 1977, Mark’s older brother Craig focused his studies on drama. After earning his associate degree he transferred to Eastern Washington University and completed an undergraduate degree. He then set his sights on Hollywood and enjoyed a career as a publicist.
For Mark, the youngest of the Smith children, attending YVC was the logical next step after finishing High School. He enrolled in 1979 to study engineering.
“YVC was and is an outstanding place to get started on meaningful careers,” said Smith. “There really wasn’t much of a decision, YVC is where ‘the Smith kids’ got started.”
Mark also was excited to continue his football career as a Yak.
“I played football for two seasons with YVC,” said Smith. “In ‘79 our team had the nation’s best defense and I played defensive tackle. I was Pre-Season All American in 1980 and was getting recruited to play football all over the country”.
He feels he and his siblings’ experiences at YVC set them up for future successes.
“My experience at YVC gave me a lot of the undergraduate curriculum. I learned to prioritize my college schedules balancing schoolwork, athletics, working part time and family activities,” he said.
Smith then transferred to the University of Nevada and continued his football career while studying civil engineering. On the day he got his degree, he joined the United States Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program. His active-duty service included stays in Newport, R.I.; Orlando, Fla.; Windsor Locks, Conn.; Groton, Conn.; and San Diego, Calif.
After leaving active-duty service Smith worked for a variety of civil engineering firms as a professional engineer, project manager and construction manager. He also continued to serve in the Navy Reserve and retired with the rank of commander in 2006.
Smith currently resides in Reno, Nev., where he serves as the Northern Nevada construction services manager for the Water Business Group for HDR Engineering — a civil engineering consulting firm.
Essential to his career and the careers of his siblings was the foundation they gained at YVC. He encourages other high school students to get started at the community college level.
“Start at YVC to do the freshman and sophomore courses and get used to being a college student”, says Smith.
“It’s a huge cost savings and you can attend while commuting from home.” During my career I’ve been trained in ‘nuclear physics’ and ‘rocket science,’ you don’t know where a great career will take you when you’ve had a great start!”