Meet Jake Smith
Meet Jake Smith
The U of A alum is in medical school and runs a baseball non-profit for kids in two countries
Most students coast the summer after their freshman year of college, but Jake Smith stepped on the gas. The University of Arkansas kinesiology major started his own non-profit.
He was playing for the Razorback baseball team and was assigned to pitch for the Texas Collegiate League that summer. While there, he reconnected with a translator from Nicaragua who mentioned that one of his country’s school principals hoped to start a small baseball program.
“I visited the school and saw an opportunity to transform the lives of Nicaraguans through baseball, much in the same way the game had mine,” he said. “It was obvious the students had the ability and desire to play. They lacked only the resources.”
Jake expected his non-profit – 1and1 Ministries – to remain small, which would give him time to become a physician. But 4 ½ years later, 1and1 has four locations in two countries. He’s in the beginning stages of bringing the baseball ministry to a third country – and to Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Jake said that his time as a Razorback student athlete and U of A Honors College student taught him important lessons in leadership, resilience and time management—lessons that he has used well to succeed in medical school and with his charity.
“The most important thing I gained from the U of A were relationships with professors and peers,” he said. “I stay in contact with many of my instructors, and they continually share advice.”
Jake mentioned, in particular, Chancellor emeritus John White Jr., professor emerita Sharon Hunt and faculty members Suzanne McCray, Mack Ivey, and Fran Hagstrom. He called them “just a few of the most influential people during my education.”
He visits his ministry locations during school breaks, but he said the recent sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua has suspended travel for over a year.
“As with most things in my life, during this time God opened a door to expand our operations to Colombia,” he said.
Jake said teaching baseball is effective in reaching and developing younger generations.
In addition to placing the kids in fun and competitive environments, baseball also puts players in uncomfortable and high-stress situations. Jake said 1and1 Ministries teaches student athletes how to effectively overcome these situations and to apply lessons learned to real-world scenarios. He believes that this gives kids the ability to work within teams, think critically, and engage their faith to lead them through challenging circumstances.
Jake said his non-profit team wants to help build leaders capable of changing their communities.
And he’s leading by example.
In late 2019, the Nicaraguan Olympic Committee invited Jake to attend its 2nd International Sports Medicine and Doping Congress. He was the only American invited.
“I connected with the organization because they are helping expand a Sports Medicine initiative my organization is beginning,” he said. “Speakers from the Ministries of Sports and Olympic Committees from Guatemala, Cuba, Colombia, Honduras and Costa Rica taught Nicaraguans the basics of Sports Medicine. I was impressed by the number of attendees and the passion of Nicaraguans to further their knowledge of sports medicine.”
The Congress also provided an opportunity for Jake to network with international sports medicine leaders. This networking will benefit his growing charity and burgeoning medical career.
“I believe it’s imperative for me to have the ability not only to focus on individual patient care—but also to understand the entire healthcare system,” he said. “I hope to use my degree to eventually work closely with the International Olympic Committee and World Health Organization.”
This story is part of a new series featuring outstanding students in the College of Education and Health Professions. Curious about U of A kinesiology now? We hope so! Jake is definitely inspirational.
About the College of Education and Health Professions: The College of Education and Health Professions offers advanced academic degrees as well as professional development opportunities and learning communities in service to the education and health systems of Arkansas and beyond. The college provides the education and experiences for a variety of professional roles, ranging from community mental health counselors to school teachers and leaders. Programs in adult and higher education, along with educational technology and sport management, offer a broad range of options. In addition to education-related opportunities, the college prepares nurses, speech-language pathologists, health educators and administrators, recreation professionals, rehabilitation counselors and human performance researchers.