The biggest word that describes Cameron Smith is advocate. Meaning: she has the courage to stand up for those who she knows deserve more.
As a Journalism & Public Policy major at the University of Kansas, Cameron Smith has stood up for a lot of people. Those who are disabled, impoverished, or without direction. She represents her school as the Official Off-Campus Student Senator – and finds time for passions like playing the trumpet and french horn.
She’s also felt driven to give back to our troops; volunteering for Army Reserve events and leading campaigns to raise money for overseas soldiers. Cameron Smith is a Spring 2019 OurMilitary.com scholarship finalist. You can read her essay below.
“I’m an Army brat — and darn proud of it.”
Similar to many military children, I quickly began to appreciate my parent’s admirable work for our country by living in a military family.
Aspiring to replicate the courage and values of my father, I naturally was drawn to more masculine activities as a child. I never had an all-female entourage as a child due to this, but I quickly found a love of sports and male-dominated courses, even orchestral instruments – such as the trumpet and French horn that I have studied and practiced for 12 years.
These ethics have continued to propel me to persist through inequity in male-dominated fields of expertise and education. “Always be intelligent, vigilant, and brave,” my father would say. This phrase can be widely-interpreted, and I embodied through my unique take on femininity.
Military values can have priceless benefits — many times unique to each individual. I value the genuine equality our military promotes in women and girls.
Learning and working in STEM-based fields with emphasis in security policy, I face organic adversity that gender disproportion brings to any environment. It is due to the foundational military values I learned from my family and interpreted for myself that enable me to carry my intelligence, strength, and bravery with me now, just as presently as I did when I was a child.
Living in a military community is a privilege.
It’s also an opportunity for intellectual development. However, some military children never have the opportunity to acknowledge these benefits.
I was lucky enough to recognize and apply these invaluable assets. Moving gave my sister and I consistent opportunities to discover more about our country. Seeing the thousands of families and veterans impoverished across the U.S, I was determined to resolve the issue, establishing a nationally-recognized poverty advocacy group: RESULTS KU.
The advocacy world represents under-served populations, and I saw a tragic scarcity of poverty and healthcare representation for our veterans. I aimed to diversify this demographic, and succeeded. RESULTS as a national organization has lobbied and secured a government commitment of $3.3B for healthcare supporting rural VA hospitals, and work programs for our retired service members.
Encouragement of female bravery was a requirement of my family during my adolescence, and it is now as I represent under-served populations. Growing up with the virtue of bravery has allowed me to harness its ever-growing possibilities and inspire others to face adversity with determination, far past my own community.
Experiencing the critical impacts a single voice can enable, I moved to Washington, D.C. so I could be of service and learn more about in the most important governing body in the history of democracy: the U.S. Congress. I currently intern for senior-Senator and Marine Corps Veteran, Pat Roberts.
Roberts’ dedication for the country radiates from his office walls covered with emblems of service that translates in the way he and his staff serve the people of Kansas and the United States. Though working for a Senator can be intimidating, I relate to him on a range of issues as we both grew up in a staple military community: one of respect, dedication, and patriotism.
This historically male-dominated building has become a sanctuary of learning and inclusion for women because of the like-minded individuals and respect for those improving the country—many of which were raised with the same military values as I was.
The Three Pillars
American military values passed down to me by my father showed me that being smart, strong, and brave are three vital pillars to creating lasting, positive impact in any given situation.
It is my internal motivation established throughout my youth that ensures my resilience against adversity. Each individual has stories of success sentimental to themselves, and mine certainly come from an adolescence of Army stories, push-up competitions, and a unique perspective on learning instilled by the U.S. Military. This perspective not only equipped me for the world of politics and diplomacy, it encouraged me to become the smartest, strongest, and bravest woman I can.
The OurMilitary.com Annual Veteran Recognition Scholarship presents a priceless opportunity for me to graduate college and continue applying this educational mindset of communal military values throughout my graduate degree and career in federal government. As a fully self-funded student, this scholarship provides significant assistance to help me graduate from The University of Kansas with Honors in two degrees. It will be imperative for my career and my dedication to higher education that my American military community upbringing taught me to cherish.
Best regards and thank you very much.
If you like Cameron Smith and her story, read more like hers here.