category: Campus News

Heartache led C-N student to find God’s purpose for her life

Jada Smith, of Dandridge, found her spiritual gifts and life calling during her tenure at Carson-Newman University. She graduates May 7.

(April 29, 2021) JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — When her relationship of three years ended, Carson-Newman University student Jada Smith knew that her life was headed in a new direction. Turning to God fully, she started doing devotions and praying to find what God wanted for her life.

Then something caught her eye. It was an ad for teachers for First Baptist Church A+ Preschool Program in Tahoe City, California, during summer 2019. Jada decided to interview for the position.

“I was told that I would only get the spot if it did not work out with another girl from Louisiana, because they usually only took people directly through the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. I was not involved with the BCM at this time,” she said.

That April, she received a call from a representative of the A+ Preschool Program who informed Jada that she had secured the spot and had only nine hours to decide whether she would take it. Despite knowing she would be away from family and friends for two months, she said yes.

“It was the best decision I have ever made,” she said.

She was assigned to teach transitional-kindergarten students Bible stories and lead them in camp activities. During her stay in Tahoe, she bonded with the children and formed sisterhood bonds with the 10 other missionaries.

Tahoe was an extreme ‘God’ thing in my life, and it had inspired me to travel more, love more and be more than what I had in mind before,” she said. “I discovered the love of God and began to love myself. Tahoe makes me very emotional, and I would recommend that opportunity to anyone.”

Jada, now a senior general psychology major, is currently the president of Young Women of Promise, secretary of Mortar Board, and a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority.

Taylor Anne Bates, C-N’s Women of Vision’s liaison to Young Women of Promise, which are organizations through which volunteers support the University, describes Jada as a kind, loving, authoritative and Christ-centered leader.

“The Young Women of Promise membership had taken a significant hit due to the pandemic and graduating seniors,” Bates said. “When Jada assumed the role of president, she took it upon herself to recruit women that exemplify Carson-Newman’s mission of worldwide servant-leaders.”

Bates added that, during a time that made it challenging to complete any type of community service, Jada and her team made it work.

“By taking the appropriate safety protocols, they were able to give back to the community, which was all guided by Jada’s love for the community and serving her brothers and sisters in Christ,” she said.

Despite going through heartache, rejection and anxiety, Jada said she could not see herself spending the last three years at any other university.

I have fallen in love with who I am at this school, the more I have learned about who I am and what my spiritual gifts are. My college years have given me confidence that is unmatchable and priceless,” she said. “I was able to conquer setbacks and allow them to lead me to places I never thought I would go. The Lake Tahoe internship experience changed my life, and I am now going back for another internship this summer.”

As she prepares to graduate and head to Tahoe, Jada prays that she can build stronger bonds with her students.

“I hope to find what God has in store for me through my kids and through that place where he had been so faithful to me in bringing me through my heartbreak. I want to strengthen my skills with that age group even more and learn from other missionaries,” she said. “I want my preschoolers to look at me as a trustworthy, nurturing individual. I hope they know how much I already care for them.”

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and celebrated a record 2,900 students in the fall. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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