Laura Lynne Smith was destined to be a teacher. She believed in education, was immeasurably creative, and received fulfillment from loving and nurturing children.
Before she ever found her home in a kindergarten classroom, she found it in the College of Agriculture. “The College of Ag was, and is, a unique place in that they find a way to welcome everyone,” said Dr. Sharon Naquin, Smith’s sister. “They view the students as individuals and look after them well beyond their graduation date.”
Smith lost her battle with leukemia in 1988, but Naquin has ensured her name lives on in the college. Naquin worked in the college for nearly two decades, first as an associate professor and, more recently, as an adjunct professor.
Several years ago, Naquin established and largely funded a student awards ceremony as a way to honor Smith. “It was for her, and for her legacy,” she shared. “I wanted her memory to be part of that campus.”
Naquin is leaving the college soon, and has found a new way to ensure Smith’s name lives on. “There was almost a connection we had while I was there, and I still want that connection for her, even though I won’t be there or can’t be there,” she said.
Naquin, along with her daughter, Laura Blair, recently established the Laura Lynne Smith Memorial Scholarship. The endowed gift is a second chance for juniors in the College of Agriculture who have lost their TOPS funding.
“They deserve a chance to go on and to further their academic studies,” Naquin explained. She added that many students have a tendency to lose TOPS after their first or second year in college, “and then they get serious about going to school, and the money’s lost.”
Naquin said that Smith touched many lives. “So many people reached out to us, to me and to our family, telling us how special she was and how they still, in some way, hadn’t forgotten her or, in some cases, hadn’t gotten over her.”
This scholarship, while keeping Smith’s name alive, will also keep her giving spirit alive. Naquin shared, “I want to be able to allow somebody else to touch others’ lives and have such a positive impact like she did.”
Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2014.