‘Ready to get out there’

Published 10:57 pm Friday, May 17, 2013

KFHS valedictorian looks for international challenge

When Laura Smith learned unofficially at the end of March that she would be King’s Fork High School’s 2013 valedictorian, the news came as a surprise.

“I was incredibly surprised,” Smith said. “They all thought the salutatorian was going to be valedictorian. I had wanted to be valedictorian, but we had all accepted she was going to be it, so I had given up hope.”



The reaction at Smith’s home sounds like it was poignant — if a little dramatic. “There was a lot of screaming, and I think my mom and I cried a little bit.”


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Smith is among 22 students in the International Baccalaureate program, and she cited an IB subject, theory of knowledge, as her favorite.

“It’s kind of like a philosophy class,” she explained. “Basically, we would sit around in a circle and have discussions about current events — we call them knowledge issues.

“The premise of the class is how do you know what you know?”

Smith’s parents are both psychologists, which she said has inspired her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine.

Along with some members of her family, she said, she started on a Paleolithic diet, which cuts out processed foods and grain to focus on foods like grass-fed meats, eggs, vegetables and fruit.

“I starting thinking about how we use processed things elsewhere,” she said. “I started getting really interested and started learning about it.

“For me, that is the way I would like to live my life, and I’m passionate about helping others live that way as well.”

As the first step toward realizing her goal, Smith will pursue a pre-med track at the University of Virginia. It doesn’t concern her that naturopaths generally don’t earn as much as regular doctors.

“I just think that if you are doing something you love, then the money will come,” she said. “Another reason I’m interested in it, I think it will allow me to travel a lot.”

Smith’s first major overseas adventure will come this summer, when she and Nansemond River High School junior Emily Bazemore travel to Oderzo, Italy, Suffolk’s sister city, on an exchange program.

Smith is president of the Suffolk International Youth Association, a teen group connected to Suffolk Sister Cities, as well as her school’s International Club, which sponsors an El Salvador girl, paying for her schooling.

Smith also volunteers at Sentara Obici Hospital and Oakland Elementary School and was a counselor at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts’ recent art camp.

She looks forward to the next phase of her life. “I’m really excited to just be around so many new people and be around diversity,” she said.

“I have lived in the same house all my life. I really appreciated growing up here, but I’m ready to get out there and see more.”