Zachary Smith

Physician Assistant

Year in School: First Year Grad

Hometown/State: Fort Covington, NY

High School: Salmon River Central School

Why did you choose Daemen College?

I chose Daemen for a few different reasons. The first reason was how successful and prestigious the PA program here is. While college is a time to meet friends and have fun, college is also about setting you up for a good job once you graduate. The next reason I chose Daemen was because of the size of the student body. I come from a very small area where everyone knows everyone, and I wanted my college experience to reflect that quality present in my hometown.

Why did you choose your present major?

I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a physician assistant my junior year of high school. I tore my ACL in a varsity basketball game and was absolutely devastated. I went to the urgent care the next day and met a PA who completely changed my outlook on the situation. She made me realize that although this injury (not diagnosed as an ACL tear yet) could end my sports career, it wouldn’t end my dreams. I had this realization after crutching out of there that I was going to do whatever it took to become not only a PA, but a successful one.

Please describe your academic experience at Daemen College. (Ex: It is challenging, but I know it will prepare me for my career..etc)

The workload in the BS/MS PA program is both challenging and time consuming. If one does not put in the extra effort to succeed, then success will never be seen. I do feel though that the undergraduate classes here at Daemen most certainly prepared me for the rigor of graduate school. The classes not only gave me the foundation of knowledge I needed but also taught me how to study as well as how to manage my time. 

Please describe the impact Daemen faculty, staff and advisors have had on you.

I think one of the biggest reasons as to why I love Daemen so much is the faculty. I do not feel like just a number - as other larger colleges often make their students feel. Whenever I see an old professor of mine he/she will say hello and will always ask how the semester is going. I have made many quality relationships with many professors, but one professor in particular has made such an impact in my life – Jon Good. The way Jon approaches issues and explains material to his students is incredible. He not only wants his students to become better in his classes, he wants his students to become all-around better people. The majority of the professors I have had carry this same attitude which is what separates Daemen from the rest.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plan after graduating from the PA program is to work with the Indian Health Services and practice medicine on a reservation out west (New Mexico, South Dakota, etc.) for at least a few years. I come from a reservation called Akwesasne located in northern NY. While even there I can see a discrepancy in the access to quality healthcare, I have heard that on reservations out west it is even more of an issue. Since the PA profession was originally created to increase access to quality healthcare to those in more rural areas and I know what it’s like live in the middle of nowhere where the closest hospital is 25 minutes away, is why I want to try to help out on reservations upon graduation.

Do you have a favorite campus activity?

I like going to the gym when I have the time. Oftentimes the schoolwork piles up and it feels like I have no time, but time can always be made if you work efficiently and use what time you do have wisely. Other than the gym, I basically just sit in the library and study. It’s not a bad thing by any means, it is just what needs to be done in order to be successful here at Daemen. It’s also pretty cool just knowing things.