Viking Spotlight: Ty Smoak Plans to Reach the Stars

Written by Megan Bednar- Foundation Intern, Fall 2021

[Clinton, N.C.]- Ty Smoak, a senior at Harrells Christian Academy, is currently on track to earn both his Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees, as well as a Business Administration High School Certificate from Sampson Community College (SCC) all by the time he graduates high school. However, his post-graduation plans are even more interesting.

“After graduating from SCC, I plan to attend either North Carolina State University or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical School to major in Aerospace Engineering,” Smoak stated. “In five years, I hope to have completed my master’s degree and be working on a design team at SpaceX, Blue Origin, or NASA.”

Smoak remarked that he was always interested in engineering, but didn’t specifically decide on space exploration until later.

He explained, “I have always loved some form of engineering, from trains to planes, but I fell in love with space and space exploration in the fifth grade.”

Smoak voiced that his family has been wonderful supporters and encouragers to him throughout his journey. Without them, he might have never decided to pursue his dream of reaching the stars.

“Both my mom and dad have supported me every step of the way, never saying this was an outrageous goal.  From a trip to NASA to seeing the space shuttle up close, to helping me, they’ve been wonderful,” he lavished.

Not only does he want to make his parents and teachers proud, but Smoak also remarked that he strives to make his grandparents proud as well.

He recalled, “I also want to make my grandparents proud of me, especially my Papaw Smoak, who passed away in February.  He always pushed me to do better and be better.”

Along with maintaining his 4.0 GPA in SCC’s Career & College Promise (CCP) program, Smoak also manages to balance his college work with classes at HCA and soccer. While it has been challenging at times to balance it all, Smoak stated that the hard work has been completely worth it.

“I feel extremely accomplished and lucky to have this opportunity. How many 18-year-olds have a high school diploma, A.A., A.S., and Business Administration degree? When I graduate, I will already have a lot of opportunities open to me,” Smoak remarked.

Ty Smoak hopes to work for NASA, Blue Origin, or SpaceX in the future. (Photo credit/Cheyenne M. Davis)

Emily Brown, Lead Career Coach at SCC, stated that Smoak has made his mark on the CCP program. 

She expressed, “Ty is a fine example of taking full-advantage of the CCP program by pairing his academic talents with hard work and dedication. Ty has a unique level of intellectual curiosity and has been a joy to have in the program. His future institutions and employers will be lucky to host him.”

Brown especially pointed out that Smoak, because he attends a private school, hasn’t been able to take advantage of NC Dual-Credit Allowances. This allows for students who are involved in a dual-enrollment program to count college classes towards high school credit.

“Everything he has taken at SCC has been in addition to his high school coursework, making it all the more notable,” she explained.

Smoak stated that Emily Brown introduced and recommended the Business Administration High School Certificate program to him. He plans to use this certification to create his own aerospace design company in the future.

Besides his family and Emily Brown, Smoak stated that Crystal White, English, Communication, and Sociology Instructor; and Britt Honeycutt, English Instructor, have been wonderful teachers and guides to him during his time at SCC.

Smoak says that he highly recommends and encourages other students to participate in SCC’s CCP program. He mentioned that CCP has taught him many lessons, from time management to maturity, to accomplishing anything you set your mind to.

He said of CCP, “This is a wonderful opportunity that no high school student should pass on.  Whether taking a few classes to become accustomed to the college experience or completing a degree, this program will put you ahead of the pack.”

Sampson Community College is so proud of Ty. We are inspired by his hard work and dedication and we look forward to seeing all he will accomplish.

For more information on the CCP or Business Administration High School Certificate programs visit www.sampsoncc.edu/ccp or www.sampsoncc.edu/business-administration.

About Sampson Community College:  Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education.