Melvin K. Smith, a three-time graduate from Auburn University’s College of Education and special events coordinator with Auburn’s Career Center with 28 years of service, has been recognized by the Alabama Association of Colleges and Employers (AACE) Board of Directors for his meritorious service to the organization and profession. Smith received the resolution during the association’s annual meeting in Gadsden, Ala., as it celebrated its 40th anniversary. He was also presented a plaque and a monetary contribution for being selected the 2015-2016 Outstanding College Professional of the Year – an award he also received in 2006-2007.
AACE recognized Smith for his many achievements and combined contributions to the organization, which has been exemplified through his outstanding professionalism, commitment, and cooperation.
“Melvin is the individual who brings life to the association along with his expertise,” said AACE president Baisha Woody. “He is a wonderful, supportive colleague in and outside of the association. While serving as college board member and membership chair, Melvin helped increase our membership and bring back some of the old AACE traditions such as providing a new members orientation. Melvin continues to do an outstanding job for our association.”
Smith said he places high value on the education he received at Auburn, which inspires both his role as a professional on campus, and as a leader of his professional organization.
“I have a B.S. in Elementary Education, which led to my first professional job as a fourth-grade teacher at Wrights Mill Road Elementary School here in Auburn,” Smith said. “Since starting that job I’ve gone on to earn Master’s degrees in both Counseling and Elementary Education. Those experiences helped me tremendously as a teacher, and also in my role now guiding students into meaningful careers. I began work on my doctorate but had to have hip replacement surgery and I haven’t gotten back to that yet. I still hope to do so.”
Beyond his outstanding service to both Auburn and the AACE, Smith has roots that run deep in the community.
“My mother was a cook at Terrell Dining Hall when I was growing up in Auburn,” he said. “Since I was from here I thought about going away to school, but mom got sick and she died in my first quarter here at Auburn. I was just totally committed to her well-being. Staying here turned out to be a major blessing, since I have always had so many family friends around, encouraging me to do well.”
In addition to his mother, Smith’s father was a chef at Sewell Hall, which for years was the residence facility for Auburn Athletics.
“Sewell Hall, under the direction of Mrs. Anne Graves, was famous for its delicious food,” he said. “My dad was proud to be a part of that, and to be part of the great athletic tradition at Auburn that he traced back to Coach Ralph ‘Shug’ Jordan.”
Going back another generation, Smith’s grandfather was the personal chauffeur for Dr. Ralph Draughon, who was Auburn’s president from 1947-1965.
“Auburn is just in my blood,” Smith said. “It makes me so proud when I coordinate job fairs. Recruiters really love coming here because of the quality of our students. And that’s especially true of our teacher education graduates. They present themselves well and have received great training. Principals and superintendents always tell me how our students are ready and equipped on their first day in the classroom.”
Smith is looking at retirement somewhere down the road, but plans to always be part of Auburn.
“I love it here, and really feel at home. Wherever I go, I toot my own horn by introducing myself as a proud graduate of the College of Education. They were a huge part of making me who I am today!”