Smith ’22 Leaps into Her 20th Birthday

By Caitlin Burns | February 28, 2020

Smith in Paris on Preview.

“When I was applying to colleges, I couldn’t select my birth date,” Public Health major Emma Smith ’22 recounts about her college application process. “It’s the most annoying thing. A lot of websites usually will automatically fill the list of days, and February only goes to 28.”

As a Leap Day baby, Smith is celebrating her “fifth” birthday on Saturday—but she’ll actually be 20. Smith is the only full-time student enrolled at Arcadia University to celebrate their birthday on Feb. 29.

While being born on a Leap Year might have its challenges, it does have its charm. Smith noted that her boyfriend, whom she met during elementary school in Downingtown, Pa., also has a Feb. 29 birthday, and that’s how they became friends. Additionally, the state legally recognizes her birthday on Feb. 28 in years that don’t have Leap Year, allowing her to apply for her driver’s license the day before her birthday.

“I’m going to be 21 when I’m 20,” said Smith. “It’s fun having a weird birthday.”

Smith plans to go home this weekend and celebrate her birthday with her family.

Every four years, February has a 29th day in order to account for the actual time it takes the Earth to orbit the sun—365.2421 days. In order to maintain a consistent astronomical year, the additional day is added to the calendar to make up for the lost time.