Raymond Smith


Radford, VA
Social Work in Waldron College of Health and Human Services
Campus Involvement:
Member of the campus Social Work Club, member of the RU Billiards club, and a member of two honor societies: Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Kapp Phi.

At 50 years old, Raymond Smith is not your typical undergraduate student. He didn’t seek a college education immediately after graduating from high school. Instead, he served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years. After sustaining injuries, he returned to his hometown of Radford, Va., and pondered what was next for his life.

As an honorably discharged soldier who received service injuries, he qualified for vocational rehabilitation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“A vocational rehabilitation specialist is basically a social worker for the VA that assesses my abilities and desires and matches me with academic opportunities to reenter the work force as a civilian,” said Smith.

Because Smith had an interest in helping others – specifically other veterans – Smith’s specialist recommended Radford University’s School of Social Work. After doing his own research, Smith decided social work – and Radford University – was the right choice for him. Part of his decision was influenced by Radford University’s reputation as a military-friendly school and its strong Disability Resources Office, which provides assistance to individuals with a variety of disabilities.

“The university has wonderful options for both traditional and non-traditional students, which speaks volumes about RU’s diversity and inclusion,” he said.

Smith’s goal to help others stems from his rich life experiences.

“I have never had one day of my life that I was hungry, without clothing or shelter,” he said. “In the military, I traveled extensively, both internationally and nationally.  I have witnessed poverty in many forms. My Christian beliefs and my fortunate life experience, motivate me to want to help others. As an African-American that was raised in the 60s, I have witnessed many forms of discrimination and oppression.  I am now in a position to positively impact the lives of others.”

Smith plans to continue his education at Radford University, earning a master’s degree in social work and becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

“Gaining my degrees from Radford University will enable me to do the most, by hopefully attaining a position of leadership in an agency that helps people,” he said.