As he walks the sidewalks of the Lincoln University campus, Jordan Smith rarely meets a stranger.
Calls of "Hey, Jordan!" and waves, head-nods and other shout-outs follow the student body president, even on a short walk between Young Hall and Inman E. Page Library.
The Illinois-born senior marketing student started his year as student body president, officially, back in April, and said he spent the summer planning for the upcoming school year, which began Aug. 19.
An active member of the student body, Smith has participated in several programs on campus — from serving as a residential adviser to studying abroad in Puerto Rico to mentoring in Blue Tiger Academy — but he never saw himself in the presidential role before deciding to run.
Smith actually ran for president a year ago and lost, using the platform "BLUE-ish," a play on the ABC show "black-ish," with BLUE standing for Building Leaders Under Excellence. Despite the loss, Smith wasn't discouraged.
"It kind of made me a little more motivated and really made me want to take the role more seriously," Smith said. "It was a good thing I lost, actually, because I wouldn't have been as prepared as I am this year. My mind wouldn't be as focused. I'm way more understanding."
Understanding is a big thing for Smith. He wants to make sure he understands the student body and the administration and be able to serve his role as an ambassador between them.
"My main job is to be a voice but also to be ears," Smith said. "I've started to really see that. I have to be more understanding than I have to be willing to speak, and I have to be more willing to listen."
His winning platform was a spin on the film and book title "The Hate U Give," inspired by rapper TuPac Shakur's tattoo, T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E, which he said stood for "the hate u give little infants (expletive)s everybody." Smith twisted it to "The Hope U Give little infants fuels excellence."
"For me, giving hope is really just about pouring into people, really trying to empower people," Smith said. "My goal is to allow opportunities for students to be involved."
Smith's plan for the year can be broken into a few areas — encouraging student involvement, changing the mindset of students from high school to college and community service.
"(Community service) is extremely important to me because I was always told and raised by my mother and my grandmother and the people in my family, today you may be the person to stand up and help someone, but tomorrow you may be the person that needs someone to stand up and help you," Smith said.
Smith wants to create a more philanthropic spirit at a university originally founded to give back to its students. A historically black college, Lincoln University was founded in 1866 by the men of the 62nd and 65th United States Colored Infantries to benefit freed African Americans.
"My plan as the SGA president is to do something to get involved in the community in Jefferson City as much as I can," Smith said. "I really want to work with as many people as I possibly can so we can create more opportunities for students after myself and create more opportunities for business owners that are already here."
He hopes more involvement in the community by Lincoln University students will change any perceptions the community might have to more positive ones and hopefully inspire lasting change and encourage communities to embrace their HBCUs.
"If we can be an inspiration to someone else by just doing good, and creating connections with each other and helping each other, I feel like that would be a successful year for me," Smith said.
Smith hopes the work he, his cabinet and the school do this year will help change the narrative.
As for his own future, Smith plans to attend graduate school and one day dreams of writing a book, becoming a motivational speaker, and opening his own business, which he's had picked out for almost four years — an ice cream and shoes shop.
"People always tell me if you open a business that you create, you have to do something you're passionate about," Smith said.
So he chose two of his passions — ice cream and shoes.