Dave Smithey '93

When I graduated from Franklin Road Academy 30 years ago, I never expected my daydreams to become my reality. Since graduating college, beginning my career, and turning the page to a new business, my life has taken me on an exciting journey largely inspired by my mentors, the curriculum, and the mission of Franklin Road Academy. 

In 2020, I founded Top Out Adventures, where I spend my days outdoors, leading adventure trips and creating memories with a fantastic crew of people. My path to owning a business came after a 20-year corporate career in operations where I was proud of my projects, just not passionate about the work. Growing up in Nashville, I loved being surrounded by nature and exploring local parks and trails, and I am now living my dream of planning adventures for a living. Starting this business has been an adventure in itself, and I'm still creating new trips and working with brands where we can embrace storytelling in exciting and monumental ways. 

My time at FRA was crucial in setting me up for success, both academically and emotionally. The science curriculum prepared me for the rigors of earning an engineering degree in college and for a successful corporate career. More importantly though, FRA inspired and prepared me to pursue my passions. The skills, confidence, and independence I gained while attending the school have allowed me to kick-start my dream with Top Out Adventures. As an alumnus of FRA, I am most proud to have been a part of a school that cares about people beyond grades and recognition. I appreciate the school's culture of valuing where you are and helping students live their full potential.

During my time at FRA, I was in the marching band, debate club, and performed in several musicals. I had many mentors, including Mrs. Mary Thigpen, Mrs. Carole Pieratt, and Mr. Hale Harris, but one person who significantly impacted my life was Coach David Tucker. He taught me the value of hard work and pushed me to perform my best. Another mentor, Mrs. Jacquelyn Turner, instilled confidence in me, providing a solid foundation for my future. Beyond academics, I learned the importance of teamwork and leadership, which I continue to apply to my business today. 

My FRA experience was all about preparation for life. I learned to be a leader and to think outside of the box. I am grateful for my time on FRA's campus and hope my story will inspire current and future FRA students to pursue their passions.