Brandon Smith, 28

Brandon Smith, 28

Community affairs liaison, LSU

When Brandon Smith was a student at Scotlandville Magnet High School, he was a self-proclaimed “political junkie” who kept a close eye on issues facing his community, state and country.

Even more, Smith knew one day he wanted to have a say in political matters himself.

“I wanted to be a player at the table,” he says. “I didn't know if I wanted to run for office or just be in public administration. I just knew I wanted to affect public policy.”

Smith had a lot to say, and didn't mind letting people know it. He enrolled at LSU in 2001 as a political science major, quickly making a name for himself around campus. He was the first black student to be elected as the Student Government Association's Speaker of the Senate. During his senior year, he was named to the Leadership LSU class, a selective training program for campus leaders.

After graduating in 2005, Smith became a Teach for America corps member and worked at Brookstown Elementary School. Two years later, he returned to LSU as the head of community outreach and civic engagement.

“My time in the classroom gave me this hunger,” he says. “I have to have a job that allows me to reach and talk to people every day. I need to be around people.”

Smith's colleagues call him a visionary and a man of service, demonstrated through several community projects launched under his tenure. LSU became the first public university to formalize a partnership with City Year. He co-founded a workshop that helps single mothers with academic training and resources. And he launched an initiative that screens men for high blood pressure, cholesterol imbalances and diabetes during a barbershop visit.

“I always say that I'm convinced that God adds a few extra hours to my day,” Smith says. “Either he knows I need more time or he feels sorry for me.”

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