Shane Smith Named Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar

Shane Smith (right) counts his father as his best friend.

Virginia Peninsula Community College student Shane Smith has been named a 2024 Coca-Cola Academic Team Silver Scholar and will receive a $1,250 scholarship. 

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the Coca-Cola Academic Team program by recognizing 50 Gold, 50 Silver, and 50 Bronze Scholars with nearly $200,000 in scholarships annually. Nominated for the academic team by their college administrators based on academic achievement, leadership, and engagement in college and community service, each scholar also receives a commemorative medallion.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities and the scholarship,” said Smith, who is a human services major. 

Coca-Cola Academic Team members were recognized in local and statewide ceremonies. International recognition came in April during Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention, PTK Catalyst, in Orlando, Fla.

A Newport New resident, Smith is set to receive an Associate of Applied Science degree in human services during VPCC’s 55th commencement ceremony Tuesday, May 14 at the Hampton Coliseum. 

Home-schooled, Smith thanked his parents, Patrick and Kimberly D. Smith, for their support and guidance. He especially appreciates their assistance in navigating his education amid his health struggles, all while balancing their careers as college educators.

He reflected on his educational journey, sharing insight into his motivations and aspirations. 

"I chose VPCC because of familiarity," he said, noting his college choice was influenced by his father, a VPCC faculty member since 2006. “While I’m very close to my parents, it wasn’t like I wanted to go hang out with my dad.  I thought, ‘Why not go to the school where he teaches and be around his colleagues, people I’d already met throughout my life?’”

Passionate about helping others, Smith was initially in the emergency medical technician (EMT) program at VPCC before transitioning to human services. He wanted to focus on mental health and therapy.

“I always enjoy aspects of life that are cooperative. That’s why I became an EMT first. However, right after graduating from that program (around 2017 or 2018), I decided I wanted to be a therapist or grief counselor,” he explained.

While Smith concentrated heavily on academic pursuits, he was also active in campus life. He served as the vice president of the College’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, earning recognition as a distinguished PTK scholar twice.

He plans to transfer to Old Dominion University to further his education but acknowledged Virginia Peninsula Community College’s important role in his growth.

“The main way the College has helped me and will continue to help is the community,” Smith emphasized. “I have made a lot of contacts at the College that I plan to keep in touch with and utilize during my career.”

“Another way is that I also plan to gain entrance in Phi Beta Kappa (the honor society for four-year schools) to continue my journey through the fraternity’s network. I’m not sure I would have been able to thrive as much as I have if not for the College’s commitment to students,” he added.