Jefferson Smith, a native of Houston, Texas, had his first international experience at age seventeen, when his family moved to Spain for six months. “I had a wonderful, very informal education. I knew I wanted to live like that,” Smith said. After returning from a mission to Germany in 1995, he attended BYU. As a result of his American Heritage class, “I realized my deep belief in the Constitution and a love for the ideals of freedom and equality. I knew I wanted to work in law and government.”
Smith took all the international political science classes he could find, and Professor Valerie Hudson soon became his friend and mentor. On one occasion, as Smith was researching online, he found the State Department web site and read about a career possibility as a Foreign Service Officer—the first time he had ever heard of such a thing. “It sounded like the dream job— traveling around the world, interacting with different cultures, changing jobs and homes every few years, while enjoying the security of a tenured career. So I signed up to take the FSO exam,” said Smith.
In September 2000, that dream job came to fruition for Smith, wife Stacey, and his two children, Noah (3), and Caleb (1). The first move took them to Arlington, Virginia, until Smith received an assignment to Kingston, Jamaica, where he has been serving as a vice consul in the Consular section of the embassy since January 2001.
“I am really loving all the aspects of Foreign Service life so far—professional, social, family life, and church life,” he reported. “The Kennedy Center program offered me an interdisciplinary way to broaden my education. Each course offered me something that has helped me in my personal and professional pursuits. Most of all, I gained a hope and faith that we can serve God by serving our country, and that we better serve our country (and others) when we serve God.”
Smith received his BA in international studies from the Kennedy Center in December 1999.