Published on May 2, 2023 by Ashley Smith  
Jessica Smith Music Minor

University Fellow, Howard Scholar, history major and music minor Jessica Smith graduated from Samford on April 29. “God led me to Samford,” said Smith.  A native of Houston, Texas, Smith said that Samford exceeded her expectations, but Smith also made the most of her time at Samford.

She started playing the piano when she was six and had not anticipated studying music at the collegiate level. “Music was a secondary factor in my college choice because I had no idea how much studying music in college was going to enrich my time here. Now, I cannot imagine my Samford experience without it,” said Smith.

Playing the piano is a “sanctuary” for Smith who earned a minor in Music with Honors in Performance. She invested time above and beyond the requirements of the piano performance minor.  “The high level at which music is pursued at Samford is something I had absolutely no experience with coming in, but I have grown so much not only as a musician but as a person – in my self-confidence, how I present myself, and how I express myself. I have been so blessed in the number of opportunities I have been given around the School of the Arts.” 

She credits her piano faculty mentor Cindy St. Clair, associate professor, for encouraging her to pursue the minor and the advanced certificate.  “That first year, Dr. St. Clair poured so much into me. She gave me the encouragement I needed to pursue this instrument in earnest and learn to play with artistry. I am the person and pianist I am today because of her. I can truly say I would not have pursued the Honors in Performance Certificate and given two solo piano recitals if was not for her,” said Smith.

Music is not only a discipline but also a spiritual pursuit for Smith. “Music is a conduit of Beauty – capital B, objective beauty,” said Smith. “I consider it such a privilege that God gave me this means of expressing this Beauty! Through it, I think we get a small glimpse of eternity. In fact, I think one of the reasons God gave us music was to help us along the path to Eternity. The piano is truly my sanctuary, where I most tangibly connect with God. I hope that, through my music, others feel a just a little bit closer to eternity.”

Smith will be attending law school this fall at Notre Dame but wants to continue to play the piano at some level.  She said that law schools were impacted by her music background.  “The discipline of practicing every day has taught me to take a necessary break from my other studies. This has come up repeatedly in my law school interviews. Not only have law schools liked seeing varied pursuits on my resume that show a well-rounded person, but I have also been able to describe in interviews how much I have grown in pursuing two separate disciplines at the same level of commitment and emotional investment. No one knows the commitment it takes to study music in college and how hard music students work!”

She will miss Samford and “the people.”  “I truly will never know how Samford does it, but they have the best faculty and staff here,” said Smith.  “Every single person is there to support you, give you connections, and see you succeed. The number of people who have invested in me, supported me, prayed for me, and cheered me on is overwhelming, and I thank God for them daily.” 


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.