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Cory Smith finds success with a little help from his friends

The demands of life and school can be a challenge. Many campus programs help students navigate the academic adventure; but the burden is often greatest for non-traditional students returning to school. For Minot State University junior Cory Smith, the work-life balance is like juggling snowflakes in a blizzard, done with the calm of a Zen-master.

Smith is an Air Force veteran, and a married father of seven who works part-time and participates in an on-campus internship, all while pursuing double majors in broadcasting and computer science. He attributes his success to the support, patience and love of family and good friends.

"The Air Force brought me to Minot, but it was the friends Iíve made here that made it the perfect place to retire," Smith said. "At first it was difficult to adjust to life after retiring. I needed to find a sense of direction again, and MSU has given me that. Everyone was supportive of my decision to go back to school, but I honestly couldnít have done it without the amazing love and support of my family, in particular my wife, who has been Super Mom."

Growing up in a rural suburb of Atlanta, Smith always dreamed he would do something creative in life. While stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, he channeled his creativity into graphic arts with the Air Force. However, military realignment required cross training in public affairs. This unexpected turn of events sparked his interest in broadcasting and computer science.

"Broadcasting, like many careers, is driven by technology. Having a sound understanding of programming and systems is important. Not only will it make me more marketable to potential employers after I graduate, but it will help me deal with technology issues that come up," Smith said.

He credits much of his success and inspiration to his professors, particularly, Neil Roberts in the broadcasting program.

"My professors are always willing to work closely with me." Smith said. "The small class sizes at MSU really make the one-on-one attention possible."

He attributes his Zen-like calm to a former Air Force supervisor who helped him understand the importance of facing the challenges and obstacles in life.

"By embracing the things we like the least, we learn to overcome and become stronger." Smith continued. "To succeed, it is important to keep an open mind and keep pressing forward."

Smith and his wife, Holly, have seven children, ages seven months to 11.