Jamie Smith wrote her first book when she was 9 years old--and didn't
find it at all unusual that she had done so. Years later, when she took
the SATs--and scored an impressive 1320--it was only the second formal
test she'd ever taken.
For Smith, who was taught at home instead of attending school, nothing
has ever seemed out of her reach. If she had an interest, say, in Patrick
Henry (which she did), it was nurtured and encouraged.
"I learned about what I was interested in," says Smith, a sophomore
majoring in English with a minor in journalism.
"It gave me a chance to have a broader education. You're not just
learning from 8:30 to 3:30, but you're learning all the time. I thought
it was great. I would do it all again."
Smith's first book was a 30-page story about Robin Hood. With help from
her father, a trained teacher and editor of Home Base, the Maryland
Home Education Association's regional newsletter, she not only wrote the
story, but illustrated it as well. Her father printed off about 200
copies, and the book was made available through Growing Without
Schooling, a national homeschooling magazine. After the initial 200
were gone, they printed 300 more. "When they were all gone we decided to
stop. I said, 'Enough with that,'" she says, adding, "I still have a copy
around here somewhere."
Since then, Smith has been a frequent contributor to Home Base,
including a comic strip, called "Jamie's World," which she also
illustrated. And she's written for Growing Without Schooling.
Now, she says, "My goal is to work for a newspaper. I really like
journalism, that type of writing."
Her favorite newspaper is the Washington Post. "I wouldn't miss
reading everything in it. I've always loved to read newspapers," she says.
And, not surprisingly, she's already been published in the Post, as well
as Columbia Magazine, as a freelance writer. During winter break in
January, she interned at the Baltimore Sun and will return there again to
work this summer.
Smith joined the Retriever Weekly in her first semester at UMBC.
She is currently news editor and will become the managing editor in the
fall. "The Retriever is great," she says. "It's a lot of fun,
especially when everything is crazy and everyone is running around. And, I
enjoy meeting all kinds of different people and then writing about them.
It's been my favorite part of UMBC, even though there are so many good
A President's Fellow and Honors College student, Smith says she's had no
problem at all adjusting to college life.
"I think actually college itself is a good complement to homeschooling,"
she says. "You come here and are responsible for yourself."
And anything is possible.