Q&A responses written by Dr. Pam Smith, as told to Zoe Engels, Contributing Writer and Editor
Meet SODA National Board Member, Dr. Pam Smith! Pam holds a BA in Communication Studies from UNC Charlotte, MS in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University, and PhD in the Integration of Religion and Society from Oxford Graduate School. She is currently the Manager of Multicultural Initiatives for Donate Life North Carolina, an advocacy nonprofit that serves the entire state. She joined the SODA team as our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisor in 2021, then transitioned to being a member of our Board of Directors approximately one year ago.
Please join us in celebrating her SODA anniversary and learn more about her organ donation advocacy efforts, personal motto, and advice to students in the Q&A below.
What inspired you to get involved with SODA?
I was introduced to SODA after a few weeks of coming on board as the Manager of Multicultural Initiatives for Donate Life North Carolina, which has a mission to inspire all North Carolina residents to save and enhance lives by registering as organ, eye, and tissue donors. Once I heard about the great impact students were making surrounding organ donation through SODA chapters, I was intrigued and wanted to learn more. Now that I’m serving on SODA’s Board of Directors with a special focus in diversity, equity, and inclusion, I’m thrilled that the message about organ donation has increased on campuses and that students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who have ties to or interests in organ donation have been the recipients of SODA scholarships.
What does organ donation mean to you?
Organ donation means giving the gift of life to me! Around 2011, my husband was told he would need to go on dialysis or begin looking for a kidney donor. I decided then to get tested. I was the only one tested. It turned out that I was a perfect match. On March 27, 2013, I donated a kidney to my husband. His life is so much better now, and he is able to once again enjoy making memorable moments with family, friends, and loved ones.
What do you enjoy most about being part of SODA National’s Board of Directors?
I enjoy working with the board and championing a cause that makes an impact in other peoples’ lives. All of the board members have such a passion for raising awareness for organ donation, and I know that collectively we are making a big difference!
Who/what inspires you?
My faith in God inspires me to live a life where my positive attitude and encouraging spirit leave an indelible imprint upon others.
If you could give students any piece of advice, what would it be?
Start or enhance a SODA chapter. Make it the best student organization on campus! Also, do your best to excel in school, work, and life. And make the most out of opportunities that come your way.
Check to see if your campus has a SODA chapter or learn how to start a SODA chapter at sodanational.org/students.
Tell us about yourself!
I am the co-founder and president of Smith Bios Group, Inc., an organization that encourages individuals to embrace healthier lifestyles through awareness of kidney disease and two of its leading causes—diabetes and hypertension. I currently reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.
When you’re not working, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
I enjoy spending family time with my husband, two daughters, a son-in-love, and three grandsons. I’m a cat-lover. I love playing with my tabby cat and furry friend, Charlie. Between my three rambunctious grandsons and my cat, there’s never a dull moment when I’m playing with them.
When you were a kid, what was your dream job?
When I was a kid, I dreamt of being an airline stewardess or a Disney artist.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer and Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence by R. Barton. I want my life to have a positive impact on other peoples’ lives as I experience God on a daily basis.
Fun fact: Pam’s hobbies include listening to gospel music, reading Christian books, and journaling.
Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
One motto that I live by is “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” With that being said, I have the power and control over my life to make the necessary changes needed to be my authentic self and to live a blessed life.
Finally, do you have a fun fact about yourself that you’d like to share?
I wish that I could eat ice cream every day of the year… butter pecan and cookies and cream… yummy!!!