Published on October 16, 2019 by William Nunnelley  
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Andrew and Rachel Fox Smothermon are young Samford alumni who are doing their part to change the world. The Smothermons reside in Washington, D.C., where Rachel is a federal contractor for the State Department and Andrew works for Deloitte Consulting. Rachel graduated from Samford in 2016 and Andrew in 2017.

Rachel is the executive and research assistant to the ambassador-at-large of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office). The TIP Office leads the United States’ engagement on the issue of human trafficking through bilateral diplomacy, targeted foreign assistance and coordination across NGO and government partners.

“I find the mission of the office incredibly compelling and am grateful for my chance to be a small part of the larger goal—the eradication of modern slavery,” said Rachel.

Andrew, meanwhile, says he loves his job in Deloitte’s strategy and analytics portfolio serving government and public service clients. “It is an opportunity to help organizations solve the pressing and complex problems they face on a daily basis,” he said.

Prior to her work at the State Department, Rachel worked for American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, in its academic programs department and then in its domestic policy department. “It helped me get my foot in the door in D.C.,” she said, “and I appreciate the lessons I learned about how to work hard, how to work with others and how to find joy both inside and outside your work.”

Andrew worked in political data management in the 2018 election cycle before joining Deloitte. “It was an exciting experience as I dove headfirst into national and state-level political campaigns as my first job out of college,” he said.

During her time at Samford, Rachel was a University Fellow and Brock Scholar, the undergraduate honors program in Samford’s Brock School of Business. “Each of these programs uniquely shaped my college experience,” she said. “The University Fellows program challenged me more than I had ever experienced and helped me to grow in intellectual curiosity and critical engagement with the world around me. The Brock Scholars program offered me flexibility to craft a specific course of study in economics and international development and mentorship opportunities that shaped my course choices and career trajectory.”

She said it also gave her “the means and space to dream big [by] ultimately pursuing multiple study-abroad courses, participating in an internship in Rwanda, completing a rigorous quantitative thesis and engaging in small-group tutorials.”

Andrew was also a Brock Scholar business major, and found the program prepared him well to join the workforce and contribute to his places of employment. “The mix of liberal arts, economics, finance and other business courses trained me to think critically and deeply about problems from multiple perspectives. This training has paid dividends, especially as I continue to work on a variety of problems in my current job.”

Rachel is from Huntsville, Alabama, and Andrew from Carmel, Indiana.

“Working in D.C. has been a great first experience after graduation,” said Andrew. Rachel added that while work was the main reason they moved to Washington, “it hasn’t always been the reason why we’ve stayed.” She said that in a work-driven culture like D.C., it is easy to believe that your occupation should be the main driver of satisfaction in your life.

“We’ve quickly learned that work can’t completely fulfill us, even if we’re doing something we love,” she said. “We still feel called to stay in this city for this season, but we are choosing to stay not only for our formal occupations, but also a variety of other reasons—for our church, our community and the opportunity to be part of a movement of changemakers in the city.

“As an undergraduate student, at times the process of finding a job in D.C. or even outside the Southeast felt daunting and unattainable,” said Rachel, “[but] I’m thankful for the professors and mentors who encouraged me and helped connect me with people who could make this dream a reality. I hope to help demystify the process for others who have similar goals.

“Washington is a great place to live—both personally and professionally,” she added. “We need more Samford in D.C.” 

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.

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