By Samantha Romano | Photography by Sarah Oden
From his grandmother to the halls of Fordyce High School, Brice Smith’s passion for service traces back to his childhood. Growing up, Brice’s grandmother challenged him to find ways to help those around him and spread kindness. He cites her as one of his biggest influences as well as one of the kindest people he’s ever known.
During his formative years in Fordyce, Brice was first exposed to EAST Initiative – an educational program that combines service and technology. EAST, Environmental Spatial And Technology, advocates for change in communities through technology education, collaborative teamwork and service learning.
Brice recalls visiting the EAST classroom and experiencing Apple computers, video editing software and GPS/GIS. Despite initially being too young to participate in the program, his parents and teachers encouraged him to explore and learn about it. This is how his affection for EAST started. Brice elaborates, “The technology was only a fraction of what inspired me to be involved with EAST. My main drive with EAST was the challenge to use the technology to benefit your community through projects.”
In Brice’s opinion, philanthropy doesn’t always have to be some grand gesture. “It can be as simple as just devoting time to the well being of those around you.” Brice explains. “That might be one of the best things about Central Arkansas that I appreciate: a big city capability with a small town heart.”
Brice is impressed by the improvements throughout various communities and feels fortunate to have been involved. “Being a student with the capability and the mission to serve your community is a feeling that can be overwhelming, but so worthwhile if you embrace it,” Brice continues. “As an advocate, my most loved aspect of EAST has never changed, it has simply shifted. Being able to work with and observe these students impacting their communities is so rewarding.”
At First Orion, Brice works as a solutions architect and finds creative resolutions to challenges in the community that deliver technology. He describes this role as being a “professional EAST student,” since that’s exactly what EAST students do best. His hopes is to leave the community better than he found it. Because, as his grandmother taught him, giving back is always a worthwhile investment.