Dr. Debra Walker Smith has an eye on the future and warm memories of the past.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Debra Walker Smith, and I am 49 years old. I grew up in East Thomas and loved every minute of it. I attended Wilkerson Elementary School, and I am a graduate of Ramsay Alternative High School. I met and fell in love with, Emanuel Smith, III, in 1985. We were married in 1989 and have three beautiful children: Eboni (24) who is a biomedical engineer pursuing a PhD in industrial engineering at Mississippi State University, Mahogani (24)—yes they are twins— a special education teacher at Armstrong Middle School in Starkville, Mississippi, and Destini (23) a second-year medical student at South Alabama College of Medicine. I am the director of federal programs and testing for Hoover City Schools.
What do you want your daughters to learn from your life?
I would love for my daughters to learn how to persevere despite the obstacles that occur in their lives and to do it with class, elegance, and grace.
What are the best and worst things about living in Birmingham?
The best part of Birmingham for me are the memories that I cherish. I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone loved and cared about each other. I felt connected to everyone around me, and I knew they were all cheering for me to do my best despite my circumstances.
The worst part about living in Birmingham is seeing the demise of those neighborhoods. The abandoned and dilapidated homes, the desolate areas where there are no grocery stores for elderly people to shop, and the negative changes in the landscape of thriving communities significant to our history and culture makes me sad. It is my hope that these areas can be revitalized to the wonderful, nurturing communities they once were.
If you could change one thing about Birmingham, what would it be and why?
I would love to see the level of pride restored to our schools and neighborhoods. Presently, we continue to hear stories of the presence of crime in our schools. It is heartbreaking to realize that children are going to school to learn and are not returning home.
What has been your biggest parenting surprise?
My biggest parenting surprise is how fast time moves. I have loved every season of my children’s lives; however, time moved faster than I was prepared for. Having three children extremely close in age was one of God’s greatest gifts! Now that I am parenting three young adults, I wish I could go back in time and relive some of our most special moments.
What is your proudest wife moment?
I am so very proud to call Captain Emanuel Smith, III, my husband. We have been married 29 years, and every day that I wake up and get to continue the journey with him is a proud moment for me. My proudest moments are just watching him care for those he loves. He is a wonderful example and role model of the kind of man our daughters should choose for a husband.
What is your proudest momma moment?
The girls are so talented, loving, and kind. They have a beauty that exudes from the inside out. We share so much together. They are my daughters, my sorors, and my friends. My proudest momma moment is watching their personal relationship with God grow and develop. I know that if they continue to seek Him first, that God will direct their paths.
What’s next for Debra Walker Smith?
As I look forward to celebrating my 50th birthday this year, I have been reflecting upon the things and people I hold most dear. It is my hope that my future will include a job that I can make a difference, loved ones who make me smile, and a relationship with God that will carry me into eternity.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I am honored to be selected as the mother of the month. If I could share some advice with young moms I would say to enjoy and be in the moment. The things that you think matter the most (keeping the house clean, cooking a meal, pursuing your career) will fail to matter once your children are grown. Prioritize your life keeping God and your family first, and everything else will fall into place.