In September of 2015, the Center for Leadership Activities and Career Services (CLACS) welcomed a new member in a new position, former Ferris hospitality major Katherine Douglas-Smith.
Smith is, by definition, the CLACS Assistant. Her responsibilities include things like running the lobby, answering phones, working with the career center and helping plan events created by and for students. She is currently in the process of helping plan the spring career fair with Student Career Services Coordinator Michelle Albright.
Originally from Muskegon, Smith came to Ferris for the nursing program but changed after two years.
“I decided, ‘if I go to school for [nursing], I’m going to go to the best,’” said Smith. “Also, my brother that’s older than me and my two sisters that are younger than me went to GVSU, so I had to be different and Ferris is a huge competitor and I just liked the idea of a healthy rivalry.”
Smith graduated from the hospitality management program in 2013 and began working in the hotel industry in Texas. Ultimately though, she and her husband made the decision to move back.
“This is where all my family is and my brother and his wife had just had a baby, too,” said Smith. “We both wanted a change of pace and he has never lived in a place where it snows six months of the year.”
The transition moving back in the midst of planning a wedding was chaotic, but Smith was ultimately happy to be back.
“I actually started here 10 days after my wedding, so that was a whirlwind,” Smith said. “For me though, Ferris was home. It was my first place away from home at least. I was a student here for five years and this is where I got my degree, so it was exciting to come back.”
Smith was very involved while attending Ferris, she was president of two different hospitality RSOs as well as helping plan their gala in the spring. She also made connections at Ferris that are still maintained today.
“One of the professors here, Amy Dorey, and I became really close when I was a student,” said Smith. “She drove me to stay positive when I was having issues with stuff in the hotel industry. I never thought as a student starting college that I would make those relationships with my professors and teachers that I could then continue to use outside of college. Amy is just really an amazing woman and a great person to have to talk to.”
Smith loves the outdoors, especially skiing and hiking. She also loves to cook but admits that for many people it just isn’t a realistic career. That doesn’t mean she gave it up completely.
“It’s nice to have on the side, but my retirement goal is to open my own vineyard,” said Smith. “Once I have all my experiences and have busted out into business and hospitality world, I want to retire at 50 and open my own vineyard.”
For now, though, Smith is happy where she is, making connections with and sometimes being mistaken for Ferris students.
“My goals in the position are just to keep moving forward,” said Smith.