This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Salt Lake Tribune reporter Melinda Rogers spoke with Elizabeth Smart on Wednesday. Here is a transcript of the interview:
Melinda: I had hoped to talk to you a little bit about your plans for the future and looking ahead after the case is done, and I know you're just back from France right?
Melinda: What have you been up to in your first weeks home here?
Elizabeth: I have just been working on readjusting, the time difference, spending some time with my family.
Melinda: I guess it's not even weeks, just week right? You've just been back a couple of days.
Melinda: Ok, have you finished with your studies at BYU?
Elizabeth: I haven't, I will return this fall and I have two semesters left so hopefully, fingers crossed, next April I'm graduating.
Melinda: OK, and I know there are so many options about where you're heading next. Do you have any ideas of what you'd like to do after graduation?
Elizabeth: Well right now, I'm just sort of staying open and not closing any doors yet. I want to go wherever I can do the most good and make the biggest difference. So right now, I'm just leaving my doors open and my options open and time will tell.
Melinda: Yeah, I know your dad had mentioned that you were considering law school. Is that an interest you have in particular after being involved in the justice system so much over the past few years?
Elizabeth: It was very, very interesting the past few years. Well, it's all been interesting. I've thought about it and I'm still thinking about it, and we'll just see what the future holds.
Melinda: And you'll graduate with a music major right?
Melinda: And also your dad talked a little bit about your foundation in March, that big award you got in New York. What are your plans for the foundation? Have you thought about that at all? Or how you'd like to help and work with your foundation?
Elizabeth: I'm really excited about the foundation. Right now there are sort of two main issues that the foundation is combining, ideas how we can make the biggest impact. But one of the issues is the RADKIDS (resist aggression defensively). I don't know how much you know about it, but it teaches children that they have options and its more than just teaching its more than just talking, its doing. It's physical action. You learn how to use your body anywhere, and it's not necessarily teaching you the correct moves, yes there are moves. It just sort of helps you realize if your hands are tied up, you have your legs, if your legs are tied up you have the back of your head. It's really incredible, and I would like to see it implemented into every school in America just like D.A.R.E. The D.A.R.E program is in fifth grade. RADKIDS, I think it should be the exact same, because knowing how to survive and knowing how to escape if you're ever put in that position is so much more important than, well, for instance, reading and math and science. Those are absolutely important but if you're kidnapped, if you're raped and killed, math and science and reading they're not going to do anything for you. It's done. But if you are taught those basic skills of how to escape, how to fight back, how to try to run away, get away from your would-be capture. That's what's going to save you.
Melinda: And do you see continuing to tell your story as something you'll be doing during long term? Or is this kind of chapter that you've thought of maybe putting behind and living life without keep telling this story? You know, what's your thoughts about that?
Elizabeth: Well my main focus right now is trying to do the most good that I can and moving forward. And so, whatever that might imply, wherever I feel like I can do the most good, then that will be that's my main focus.
Melinda: Yeah. And you've spent so much of your childhood and young adulthood just in the shadow of this case and moving through. Are you looking forward to seeing an end of sorts coming on Tuesday with the sentencing? Does it allow you to gain any sort of closure to move ahead and do different things with your life?
Elizabeth: You know, I am very excited to have it be done. But also, something that's exciting is that, May 25, not only is it the end of my ordeal, its also National Missing Children's Day. And so, I'm hoping that it will, somehow, it will be able to reach out and help other victims, other children, other survivors speak out about what's happened to them and give them new hope and courage to take a stand. So, I'm really excited about that.
Melinda: Do you have any plans to celebrate with your family Tuesday just to mark the end of this? I'm sure, not just for you, but it's been a long journey for your family from start to finish. Do you guys have any special plans to commemorate the day?
Elizabeth: I think the most wonderful thing about it is that it will just be over. And the beauty of it is that we'll be able to just keep moving on.
Melinda: Of course here in Utah I'd imagine you're recognized quite a bit. How do you react to people? Do people still come up to you all these years later and say "You're Elizabeth Smart?" And do they offer you any sort of words or anything? Does that still happen?
Elizabeth: It does occasionally happen. But, so many people did so much for me and for my family and I hope that cause there are such wonderful people in this world, I hope that people continue to do wonderful things for other children that are out there that are missing from their families. So, it's not an imposition.
Melinda: Did people recognize you in France? Or was your mission a chance to be in another country where they weren't as quick to recognize you?
Elizabeth: My mission how do you put it into words? Umm, It was an incredible experience. And I met so many wonderful people. And one of the most amazing things about it was seeing how a person's life could be completely changed for the better for the best. And so while I was there, that was my main focus and anything else that happened, that just was on the sidelines.
Melinda: So there weren't too many people familiar with the case over there?
Melinda: Utah has gotten to know you a lot throughout the case, what are some of the things you enjoy just doing as a person that you might want to share? What are the sorts of things you do with your college friends and hangout outside of this world you're pulled into on so many different occasions?
Elizabeth: Just the regular things that every other 23-year-old does. Spending time with my family, school.
Melinda: Do you have any special plans for the summer? Are you guys going on any trips with your family or big plans after this is done?
Elizabeth: I think we're just taking it as it comes, relaxing, enjoying the summer. I just came back from France, so I'm not feeling too pressed to go travel too much more right now.
Melinda: Have you had a steady support group from your friends at BYU while this has been going on? Have you made new friends there that have supported you throughout this experience in court?
Elizabeth: There have been so many people who have supported me and loved me and prayed for me. I could never say thank you enough.
Melinda: I sure appreciate your time and thank you so much for being willing to talk to us all today. It's been really nice and it's so nice to meet you, so thanks again.