Originally posted on November 20, 2009 by Jay Buckner
Kay Smith first learned about Berea College while she was a student enrolled at Sullins College in Virginia. During a convocation, the Sullins president’s wife mentioned Berea as one of those distinctive educational institutions that served Appalachia. “It just made such an impression on me,” Kay says. “Here’s a college that offers an education to those students who need it. I thought it was wonderful.”
As a ‘child of the depression,’ Kay felt deeply grateful to her aunt and uncle who helped to provide her college education. An educator, Kay married Larry Smith, a man who was as passionate about education as she was. In fact, they supported several causes together, and their support for Berea’s students became a joint endeavor.
When Larry died in 1997, Kay memorialized his life in a way he would have appreciated – with a scholarship for a Berea College student. She established the E. Lawrence and Kathleen M. Smith Scholarship, which has now supported four different students. Because she wanted to get to know the recipients, Kay makes a special effort to communicate personally with those students who benefit from her scholarship endowment. “I have had a marvelous relationship with the students,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed so much following and seeing their progress.”
Leah Devine, ’06, a Smith Scholarship recipient, says keeping in touch with Kay was a privilege. Although they were decades apart in age and miles apart in distance, they share an interest in teaching. Kay offered Leah, “hope and inspiration as I entered the Spanish classroom here in Kentucky,” Leah says.
“I am thankful for the opportunities we had to connect through our letters and cards over the years.”