Woman holding award

Blair Wortsmith receives national award for work in student engagement

Blair Wortsmith only made the move to Gainesville last March, but she’s already made a big impact on the University of Florida community.

Wortsmith is the program coordinator of campus events, a position under the campus events and traditions team within the department of Student Activities & Involvement in the Division of Student Life. Through the role, she has worked tirelessly toward strengthening the student experience on campus, creating initiatives such as GatorDays to help students connect to the community and each other.

This spring semester, Wortsmith was recognized for her work by the National Association for Campus Activities, a professional development organization devoted to creating inclusive student communities on college campuses. She received the C. Shaw Smith Outstanding New Professional Award, named for the association’s founder, for her commitment to excellence in serving student leaders.

Wortsmith officially accepted the award on Feb. 14 at the National Association for Campus Activities’ national conference in Kansas City.

“Receiving that phone call from the CEO of NACA was absolutely surprising and really humbling, exciting and rewarding,” she said. “I’m so grateful for everyone at UF who has invested in me over the past year to help me be able to give back to our campus and contribute on a national scale, as well.”

Working in the student affairs profession wasn’t always part of the plan for Wortsmith, who graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2019 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She said her undergraduate experience was shaped by student leadership roles within Greek life, student activities and other on-campus organizations — positions that inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student personnel.

“It was definitely a big surprise that I ended up not working in a corporate business or financial advisor role,” Wortsmith said. “But I knew that I wanted to feel like I was having a strong impact every day and getting to work with students to empower that next generation was something I am really passionate about.”

At UF, Wortsmith has directed this passion toward a variety of projects, including the establishment of GatorDays — an initiative that hosts free on- and off-campus events and trips for students. Over the past year, GatorDays has sponsored a trip to see the national tour of “Hamilton” in Jacksonville, planned an on-campus ice breaker event and partnered with local restaurant The Fat Tuscan for a pasta-making class.  The program seeks to help students discover new interests, find a sense of belonging and explore their communities.

Other professional highlights from the past year include serving as the staff advisor for the Homecoming Leadership Pageant and working alongside GatorNights, Wortsmith said.

She said her favorite part of projects like these is the opportunity to combine creativity with both her business and student development backgrounds.

“No day looks the same, and I think it’s really dynamic and engaging work that keeps me energized and feeling very purposeful,” Wortsmith said.

Looking to the future, she said, she plans to aid in the rollout of new initiatives in student engagement, while also continuing to invest in GatorDays as it enters its second year. The main goal is to keep providing innovative events that cater to the needs and desires of the student body, she said.

Wortsmith also said connecting with various campus partners within the Division of Student Life has been rewarding. She said she hopes to strengthen these relationships and engage with others who are involved in promoting student life.

“I’m just really excited to be a sponge and keep learning from people who are doing really good work here at UF,” Wortsmith said.

Writer: Veronica Nocera, vnocera@ufsa.ufl.edu

Source: Blair Wortsmith, blairwortsmith@ufl.edu