Participant Story Alex Smith

Alex_btn“The 2013-2014 PULSE participants are a wonderfully diverse group of gifted people.  Seeing and experiencing their passion only motivates me to work harder in my every pursuit, and to learn more from every person and scenario I encounter.”  – Alex Smith

Alex Smith is a fan of all things Pittsburgh. Growing up in Greensburg, Pa, he was drawn to the city and studied at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2012, Alex graduated from  Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in History and Public Policy. Throughout his college career, Alex was employed as a Sergeant with the Marine Corps Reserves. When Alex isn’t cheering for the Pens, Steelers, or Buccos, you might find him grabbing lunch in the Strip District or taking in a show in the cultural district with his housemates.  Alex is currently serving with the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board, where you can find him serving both in- and out-of-school youth in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. He is developing a variety of programs to inform and provide youth both education and career opportunities in the region.

What do you love about Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is my home.  I was born in Westmoreland County and have lived in Pittsburgh on-and-off for the last eight years.  I have had the privilege of living and working in a few other cities, and the luxury of visiting many more.   I have also learned much about my hometown and myself during my travels.  Pittsburgh is my home, and the best way to describe my fondness for Pittsburgh is to equate the city as a family member. Pittsburgh is a place where tradition coexists with progress, where the only black-clad ensemble better than our football team is our symphony, and where physical neighborhoods and community not only exist but are celebrated.  Living in Pittsburgh has presented so many opportunities to me from education to culture, and has always embraced me as one of her own.  For that I love Pittsburgh, and for that I am forever indebted to reciprocate that love.

What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

The best part of PULSE for me is the opportunity to work and live in Pittsburgh.  I am grateful for the chance PULSE has provided for me in a quality placement at a local non-profit that has the capacity to improve my hometown.   Working everyday to make Pittsburgh a better place to live does not feel like work, it feels more like a blessing.   To quote one of the city’s most prodigious sons; “My heart is in the work” (Andrew Carnegie, 1900).  My heart is in the work because Pittsburgh will forever be in my heart.  To be given the opportunity to not only stay in Pittsburgh but to work actively towards her improvement feels incredible.

What are some hobbies that you would like to pursue or have started pursuing?

When I am not working, my favorite thing to do is swing a golf club.  The only thing I like more than playing a round of golf on Saturday is playing two rounds, or hitting the range, or working on my short game.  I also enjoy kayaking, sport shooting, and rooting for whatever team is wearing black & gold on TV at the moment.

What is something about Pittsburgh that has surprised you?

Pittsburgh has undergone an incredible transformation during my lifetime.  Being a Southwest Pennsylvania native, I became accustomed to shuttered main street businesses and abandoned homes, but the region’s economic recovery in recent years has changed that norm.  Some of the most visible redevelopment has occurred in the East End of Pittsburgh.  I look forward to both witnessing and contributing to the city’s complete transformation from post-industrial to cutting-edge.  I cannot wait to see what the city looks like in another few decades.

How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

PULSE is unique in that it encourages both personal and professional development while working within a discipline of my choosing.  Few young adults get a chance to pursue any of those undertakings at one time, let alone all at once.  This fortuitous environment reminds me of how blessed I am.  It reminds me constantly that every day on this earth is a gift, every situation is a learning opportunity, and every person a mentor, so long as I remember that I am blessed.

Story by Anna Wildermuth (Pawsey) – PULSE Alumnus ’10-11, ’11-12

Read more stories about the Participant experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.