Student-Athlete Spotlight: Khafren Smith

Brandywine senior Khafren Smith standing outside the Main Building.

Penn State Brandywine senior Khafren Smith.

Credit: Bill Tyson

Name: Khafren Smith
Major: Information Sciences and Technology
Minor: Security and Risk Analysis
Year: Senior
Involvement: Co-captain of men’s soccer team, Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Council for Latino/a/x and African-American/Black Student Success (CLAASS)

Brandywine: How has being a student-athlete influenced your experience at Brandywine?

Smith: It's definitely taught me about time management. We're always moving. We're always practicing, especially during the fall. The fall is usually very busy for me. I had to learn very quickly how to manage time, manage meeting with professors to get work outside of class if miss it. And just really juggling all the things that I have to do and that are in the fall semester. Also, making sure that I show up to class. Because at the end of the day, we're here for the degree and that's what's most important.

Brandywine: What got you interested in soccer?

Smith: I had a friend and his dad was a coach and he ended up running a team in my area. We were seventh or eighth grade, and I wasn't very good at it, but it was fun. I learned and started to love the game and watch more of it on TV. When I got to high school, they had tryouts and I made varsity and thought, okay, so I'm not terrible. It's a nice escape for me, outside of the classroom, because sometimes things can get very lonely sitting on a computer most of the day. It's nice to get some outside time and exercise because I think it's important as well.

Brandywine: What got you interested in Information Sciences and Technology?

Smith: My high school, Science Leadership Academy, is a STEM-based school. I was looking at engineering when I was school. I liked the idea of building and my father got me into programming language, maybe about 11th grade. I had a little knack for it. I was decent at it. And I was looking at how things are evolving in the world. So I decided to switch to IST. There are a lot of career paths you can take with IST.

Brandywine: What challenges have you faced as a college student?

Smith: I would say the workload. Coming in as a freshman, the transition was not as smooth as I thought it would be, especially with the rigorous soccer schedule. Luckily. I had guidance from upperclassmen who were able to talk about how you should manage your time and ways to get help and tutoring, all those things. That helped get me through that transition. After that, I feel like once you kind of grow into it and learn and understand this is what we need to do, this is what's expected of you, then it becomes a little smoother.

Brandywine: How has Penn State Brandywine supported you?

Smith:  I had an injury in my second year. It was a really rough time, physically and mentally challenging. Still had classes going on. I was taking 15 credits, so decent workload, and going to rehab. The athletic department was really, really helpful in terms of catering to my needs. I couldn't really walk, so the athletic trainer would get me in the golf cart and bring me around. The library staff was really helpful making sure that I was okay in coming into class and talking to my professors. Bobbi (Caprice, athletic director) was very helpful getting me through everything, making sure that I was still succeeding in the classroom as well as getting myself back on my feet.

Brandywine: What have been your greatest accomplishments at Brandywine?

Smith: My freshman year, we won the national soccer championship, which was the first in the school’s history. Being able to play an integral part in the national championship as a freshman and getting time in that game was very substantial to me. We all had a great moment that night.

Brandywine: Why did you choose Penn State Brandywine?

Smith: I went to mainly small schools growing up. So small classes definitely worked for me. When I was looking at schools, I had a lot of bigger schools on my list. But at Brandywine, you're not just a number to your professors. There's more of an interaction and professors get to know who you are and know what works for you, what doesn't work for you. That was part of it that definitely helped, and the location, too. I didn't want to go too far from home. And it has a great selection of majors compared to other smaller schools.