October 4, 2021
Growing up being involved in politics at an early age, Matthew Smallwood quickly realized he wanted to pursue a legal route for his career starting at Shawnee State University. He found his way to campus after completing his first semester of college elsewhere. During that first semester, he came to SSU every week to visit friends and enjoy the events, and quickly felt the campus became home for him, so he transferred.
“Even though I wasn’t going to Shawnee that first semester, I was there every week,” he said. “I just really enjoyed the atmosphere. I really enjoyed the friends that I had made – not only that I knew that were going there from my school, but I made other friends through them and it just felt like home already.”
A 2017 SSU graduate, Smallwood obtained a degree in Business Administration with a focus in legal assisting. Taking the time to connect with campus and the local Portsmouth area, he found a way to gain experience throughout the SSU community.
“When I was at Shawnee, I worked at the Counseling & Health Services office from the time that I began and all the way until I graduated,” he said. “I worked in the Provost office the summer of my junior semester, and in the end of my senior year in March I got a job with a law office in town – Johnson, Oliver, and Howard. That was my first legal job.”
After completing his degree, Smallwood decided to attend law school. Throughout his time in law school, he made the most of his time and obtained as much experience as he could.
“I started working at a law firm the end of my first year of law school doing tax bill foreclosures before then starting with a personal injury firm,” he said. “I did that for five months before I started my work with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office where I was interning in the Special Execution section. I went back to work for that tax bill foreclosure firm for my entire third year of law school. Once I took the bar exam, I started working as an attorney for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and I just recently transitioned to doing transactional and employment law.”
Reflecting on his undergraduate years at SSU, Smallwood encourages others going into Business Administration to take full advantage of their resources in college to help them be successful.
“My advice still stands with reaching out to the faculty,” he said, drawing on his own undergraduate experience. “Most of my professors were very accommodating, very understanding, and would point you in the direction you need to find those resources. That’s something I wish I would’ve realized earlier is to reach out and really utilize the resources that Shawnee provides.”
This spotlight is part of an ongoing series by the SSU Alumni Association in celebration of the university’s 35 Years milestone. To learn more about alumni making a difference in their careers, visit shawneestatealumni.com for more features.