Animals have a positive influence on their humans, as evidenced by numerous studies that show pet owners are more content, healthier, and live longer. The experience of owning animals has definitely had this impact on Laura Smith’s life. She spoke about her animals and their role in her life in her Chapel Talk, delivered on April 24.
Laura has been surrounded by animals on her family farm all her life. However, during a difficult time in her life, she learned just how important her own animals would become.
On track for college with memberships in the National Honor Society and Beta Club at Amelia County High School, Laura got a part-time job once she could drive. After convincing her parents that she could pay for a dog with her earnings, she found an “adorable little fur ball” of an Australian Shepherd puppy and brought him home. Rambo became her best friend and would help see her through a difficult time.
As a junior at the High School, Laura was given more free time when two study hall periods meant she could leave early. “Some of you might be thinking, ‘that would be awesome,’” she said, “but only if I had used my time wisely.” Instead, Laura made mistakes and lost the trust of her parents.
It was during this time that her dog, Rambo, and her horses provided the opportunity for Laura to regain that trust and navigate a school transfer to Amelia Academy for her senior year.
With her free time curtailed, Laura started spending more time with her horses. “I went to the Amelia [riding] ring one day and met a woman named Ashley Messer who was also riding.” Weekends became a time for going to rodeos with Ashley and her son. “She taught me everything from horses to life lessons,” Laura said.
This year, Laura continues riding horses and competing in barrel racing events. She also joined the Amelia Academy Equestrian Program for her senior year. And, Rambo remains by her side. “Rambo and I do everything together now, from riding horses to mowing grass, and eating ice cream,” she said.
The love and support of family and friends have helped Laura become the person she is today. However, the animals have helped shape her life and provide the inspiration for her vocation. Next fall, Laura will attend Bridgewater College where she looks forward to pursuing degrees in business and equine studies.
As a student at the Academy this year, Laura has played volleyball and softball. She was elected vice-president of the senior class.
Attending Laura’s Chapel Talk were her parents, Tanya and David Smith, both Academy alumni, along with her sister Jacquelyn, a 2016 Academy graduate. Her grandparents Shirley and Tommy Flippin were in attendance. Another special guest was her friend and mentor, Ms. Messer.