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Adaptability and flexibilty are key for St. Norbert College faculty member

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for everyone. But Kim Smith has been up for the challenge thanks to hard work, a Ph.D., and a heart of gold.
Smith is assistant professor of communication and media studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.
Her research at St. Norbert focuses on the increasing presence of and demand for flexible work arrangements in the workplace. Perfect! If anyone was prepared to adapt and adjust to the pandemic, it was Smith.

“The pandemic has presented so many challenges that you can’t necessarily predict,” Smith said. “Flexibility is what I study. What do flexible work arrangements look like, and how do we capitalize? What businesses and people are better suited to flexible schedules? For me, I’m learning what my own research is supposed to be telling me.”

This is not the first time Smith has dealt with difficult circumstances. At 18 months old, she had several doctor appointments that led to open-heart surgery. It has been 33 years since the surgery, and Smith has not missed a beat.

“It’s actually really fascinating,” she said. “I wouldn’t know I had surgery if I didn’t have a scar. I was able to play sports my whole life and was basically able to do the things I wanted to do.”

Not everyone who goes through open-heart surgery like Smith is as fortunate. That’s why Smith and her family were honored in 2018 as a “Miracle Family” and were invited to take part in the student-run organization Dance Marathon at St. Norbert College. Miracle Network Dance Marathon raises funds and awareness for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. The students and families dance the night away, for 13.1 hours, so other children can experience a success story like Smith’s.

“It can be really devastating when you learn that there’s a condition that’s a big deal,” Smith said. “Dance Marathon was cool because we got to celebrate where I am now and also help other families. This is what the Children’s Miracle Network, the hospitals, and the doctors can help your child to accomplish.”
Smith has been teaching at St. Norbert College for five years.