The last four months have flown by.
That’s a good thing, said Heather Smith, assistant in the Office of Alumni Relations, because the last thing she wants to do is think about the long wait to see her husband again.
Her husband, Derek Smith, is a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army and is currently serving his second tour in Iraq, where he works as a public affairs officer.
“The secret is to keep busy,” Smith said.
Smith came to Franklin & Marshall two years ago to become the alumni relations assistant supporting the regional chapter programs.
She is the friendly voice on the phone when alumni call to ask about upcoming events, and the one who packs all those event goodie bags for the dozens of regional chapter events held each year.
“I like communicating with the alumni. When I go to events, I get to put the faces with the names and it is nice to meet everyone,” she said.
Before coming here, Smith was a legal secretary at a large Lancaster law firm and before that, she worked with the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office. Among her tasks as a legal assistant to the D.A. was to prepare exhibits in criminal cases, including homicides.
“That’s difficult and sometimes upsetting work,” she said. “The stress of working there and a law firm later took a toll on me.”
Dealing with event planning can be stressful too, Smith added, “but it is a healthy kind of stress with a good payoff. When you greet smiling alums at events, it makes it all worthwhile.”
Outside work, Smith, 29, shuttles her daughters, Danielle, 10, and Leanne, 2, to soccer practices and Girl Scout meetings.
About three times a month, Derek gets a care package from home with letters, cards, books, food, Rice Krispies treats and candy. “M&Ms fare better in the desert than candy bars. Derek will back me up on that,” Smith explained. “The girls are really into it and it takes their mind off missing their father.”
Smith grew up in Lancaster and lives in Strasburg, Pa. She leads the Girl Scout troop that Danielle belongs to, and this month the troop is working on a special project to send 50 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies to Derek’s unit in Iraq.
The family keeps in touch regularly, mostly by e-mail, but Smith and her daughters are counting the days until Derek comes home on leave in August.
“It’s difficult,” she said, “but the time has flown, and I’m thankful it is going quickly.”