May 9 – Happy Birthday Rachel Smith

609997Before diving into today’s Amsterdam NY Birthday Blog post, I’d ike to point out an interesting fact. Out of the approximately 165,000 girls who compete in swimming and diving at the high school level in the US, just slightly more than 2,500, or 1.6% will earn scholarships to swim or dive for Division 1 Colleges. In 2006, today’s gifted Amsterdam Birthday celebrant was one of those who did. But you know what’s even more impressive about Rachel Smith? She took advantage of that opportunity to earn a bachelor of science degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Miami University and today, she works as an electrical engineer for Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corp. in Charleston, SC.

Born on May 9, 1988, her first sport of choice was not the one that got her to college. When she was just eight years old she fell in love with the sport of gymnastics while watching televised coverage of the 1996 US Womens’ team compete in that year’s Summer Olympics in Atlanta. She told her parents, George and Christy Smith, that she wanted to try the sport and before you know it, she was winning medals and trophies in youth gymnastics competitions throughout the Capital District area. That experience prepared her perfectly for her transition into diving.

During her high school diving career at AHS, she was selected for the Times Union All Star Swim Teams in both her junior and senior seasons. She finished fourth in the one meter dive at the 2004 New York State championships, sixth in the same event the following year and earned All American honorable mention honors in both those seasons. She was also the Sea Rams team captain during her senior season and an honors student to boot.

That glowing record got her a scholarship to attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she put together a very successful four-year collegiate diving career as a member of the Red Hawks’ Women’s team. Not only did she earn plenty of points off the board for Miami she also scored high in the classroom as well, consistently earning spots on the Mid-American Conference’s All Academic Team.

Upon graduation from Miami, Rachel accepted a position with Bechtel as an electrical engineer at the company’s Niskayuna facility. That enabled her to earn her Masters degree in electrical and electronics engineering from nearby Union College, while also working full-time. She completed that degree in 2012 and the following year accepted her current position with Bechtel in South Carolina, where she specializes in power conversion and statistical modeling.

Throughout her short but very accomplished life, this young woman has consistently shown an amazing propensity to combine the extreme physical effort and dedication required to excel at a demanding sport while also exhibiting the advanced maturity, intellect and mental discipline to succeed in very technical classroom and career environments. And you know what? She is just one of many modern-day Amsterdam natives who are succeeding in today’s competitive workplace. Happy birthday Rachel Smith. I know I speak for an entire community when I tell you how proud we are of all you’ve accomplished.


This former member of the Amsterdam Rugmaker baseball team was also born on March 9.

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