Pioneer Public – Aleina Smith

Written By Payton Communale, Co-Features Editor

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Point Park professor Dr. Aleina Smith graduated high school with almost 4,000 community service hours and has earned herself six college degrees.

“I love to learn,” Smith said. “I love to challenge myself. I love to be in a space where other people want to challenge themselves. I was the nerd, but I was the cool nerd. I worked hard and got really good grades.”

Despite this deep passion for being in the classroom, Smith never foresaw herself becoming a professor.

Smith graduated from the University of Pittsburgh after three years with a degree in Latin American studies and political science. She always had the desire to help others and be a voice for the voiceless.

“I thought I was meant to be in a courtroom, an advocate, fighting for the underdog,” Smith said. “But I got burnt out.”

Before coming to Point Park, Smith did leadership development with 120 teenage Girl Scouts from East Allegheny School District in North Versailles, Pa. She helped the junior year girls fundraise to tour their dream schools around the country while participating in community service.

“I wanted the non-traditional student to be part of Girl Scouts,” Smith said.

Many recognized Smith’s amazing work with young students and suggested she would do well as an educator.

“People would always say to me during my time with Girl Scouts, ‘You know you’re so good, you should be a teacher,’” Smith said.

Smith came to Point Park after earning a master’s degree in criminal justice. She was later offered a graduate assistantship in Point Park’s Office of the Provost while attending the university as a doctoral student.

As a graduate assistant, Smith assessed Point Park’s University 101 class and put together a recommendation on how to improve the course. She now teaches this class to freshmen and transfer students at the university.

“Because I had done the assessment and I have a background in community engagement, it just seemed like a natural fit for me,” Smith said.

Smith has been teaching at Point Park ever since. Between letting her students vent and helping them to prepare for their futures, Smith also tries forming life-long connections with her students.

“It’s the shared experiences between teacher and student that really makes the connection,” Smith said.

Smith shares her story of being a life-long learner with her students to form this connection.

“I get that you’re overwhelmed,” Smith said. “I’ve been in your shoes. I get it, and because I get it, I am going to guide you through it.”

She is taking multiple students to a national conference this coming March for a job well done on their social impact posters that she assigned to each of her University 101 classes.

“It is all about building relationships,” Smith said.

Being the life-long learner that she is, Smith continues to take at least one class each semester to help keep her on her toes and to explore different and new topics. As for the future, Smith is considering obtaining a master of business administration degree or even picking up a second language to expand her already extensive resume.

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