From Culver-Stockton College to Quincy University, Cullen Smith earns second college degree

By Jay Hammel

Sometimes it is not about what you know. It is who you know.

Graduate Assistant Cullen Smith of External Operations and Communications, graduated from Quincy University this past weekend with a Master’s Degree of Education.

During the process of the two-year program, one was spent working through the COVID-19 challenging times.

“It is a huge accomplishment,” Smith said. “Looking back on the last year with COVID-19, we’ve experienced so much adversity, so to be able to walk the stage, receive my second degree with my family in attendance is a joy.”

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, 20 out of the 21 sports programs at QU had to play their season in the spring.

“Our athletic department saw all of our competitive sports in the spring season and we had a lot of success,” Smith said. “So to get to the semester and make it to this point is a testament of our staff and athletes’ dedication.”

From 2016-19, the 6’7″ product Smith of Lansing, MI experienced a taste of the tri-states where he completed his academic and basketball career at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, MO.

As a Wildcats basketball player, Smith had built a positive relationship with the Director of Athletics, Pat Atwell.

Prior to CSC, Atwell served as the athletic director at Quincy University from 2001-2007.

And before accepting an administration position, Atwell was the Head Baseball Coach at Quincy University where he was highly successful and became the all-time winningest coach at that time, with logging an overall record of 288-200-3.

In May of 2019, Smith graduated from CSC with honors.

Atwell then reached out to former athletic director Marty Bell, that took over Atwell’s position in 2007.

This three-person relationship allowed for Smith to move across the river and work in athletics at the division II level.

“Being a part of a smaller department, you have an opportunity to have your hands in so many different areas,” Smith said. “I started out in game day operations, then moved to marketing, and finished my last year in athletics communications. My athletic administration experience has grown which will help out with my future goals of working in college athletics and increasing the student-athlete experience wherever I am at.”

If Smith is not seen working athletic communications or administrations at the collegiate level, he will be utilizing his masters degree in education toward an athletic counselor or student development position.

“Quincy prepared me in multiple facets to be successful once graduation,” Smith stated. “My growth and development goes to credit all the staff in allowing me to grow and use my skill sets to help improve the department.”

Smith is excited for the next step in life that lies ahead but will miss the community atmosphere and being able to work with wonderful co-workers everyday at Quincy University.

“It was a fun diverse group with a lot of character and we all use our attributes to help one another out,” Smith said.

For students interested in becoming a graduate assistant while earning a masters degree, one must be willing to work and ask others if help is needed.

“With a smaller department, it is important to try new things and expand your horizons and develop your talents,” Smith said.

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