From a seed to a flower

Jenna Smith


BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — For Jenna Smith, June 3, 2015, is a day she’ll never forget. That day seemed extra dark and brooding in a long period of bad weather. But with help and the support of her family, she was able to see the sun again.

Growing up in St. Pete had always been easy for Jenna. She comes from a stable family, her parents are married and she had never wanted for anything. She had been an honor roll student throughout school and loves playing basketball, soccer and now excels at volleyball.

“My dad would force me to play a sport because he works in the field of physical education. My mom, on the other hand, excelled in making sure my sister’s and my grades are always on track,” she said.

Jenna’s life is a life most teenagers only dream about. As a family, the Smiths go on international cruises and travel all through the United States. Her parents, Jeff and Tracey, paid for everything from club volleyball, to car payments and even concerts she and her sister would frequent.

However, in the spring of 2015, Jenna went through a very dark time. Her family, friends and teachers could tell that she was not the same girl, but didn’t know why.  She confessed to being bullied and some even took their bullying to social media.

“It was as if everyone on that day had something horrible to say about me and did not even truly know me or even my last name,” said Jenna as she recounted June 3, 2015.

That year her summer was spent without friends, but in a therapist’s office instead.

This therapist changed Jenna’s mindset drastically. They would discuss how some people find pleasure in hurting others to better themselves. There were days when she ran crying into her office because she just wanted to feel happy.

“She made it possible for me to leave at the end of the session with a smile on my face. That summer, I became myself again – fearless and humble, as my mom would say.”

Jenna’s best moment from it all was being able to start anew. She attended a new school, made new friends and even joined one of the top volleyball programs in the county. As a rising junior on her volleyball team, she earned the Tampa Bay Times’ All-County Honorable Mention, First Team All-Pinellas County, co-MVP for her team and many other sports honors.

Jenna was involved in the community through her 12-year membership with the Girl Scouts where she earned the High Achievers, Silver and Bronze Awards. But the accolades don’t stop there.

From being a member of the AKA AKAdemy to the National Honor Society on down to the Homecoming Queen, Jenna had rebounded from her dark period and her high school experience was something to be envious of.

“Looking back on everything I have been through, now I can smile because I have grown into a strong-minded young woman,” said Jenna.  “With the support of my family and true friends, I was just a seed with potential that has begun to blossom into a beautiful flower.”

Jenna is an inspiring television personality and a role model for generations to come. She recently graduated from St. Petersburg High with a weighted 3.9 grade point average. She’ll be attending Florida International University majoring in Mass Communication-Broadcast Journalism.

Her plans are to become a member of the Black Student Union, pledge a sorority, intern in Miami, as well as volunteer with youth and become a part of leadership clubs.

“At the end of the day, I can only be the best version of myself that I can be and continue to blossom into that flower.”

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