Brothers E. Hayes Smith ’82 and D. Kenan Smith ’84 received the Appalachian State University Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Award Oct. 21, 2016. The Outstanding Service Award recognizes individuals for their exceptional service to the university.
They are business partners in Second Creek Development Co. and have provided backing for scholarships, career placement and athletics at Appalachian.
In this video, they recount meeting current students who have been impacted by donors’ support and why they enjoy making a difference.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.
Hayes Smith: The way I came to Appalachian, well maybe both of us, our parents bought a place up here and I just fell in love with the mountains. I knew I didn’t want to go any other place except the mountains and of course Appalachian was one of the ones on top.
Kenan Smith: We just had a great time. We had a lot of friends, did a lot of social activities. We did attend class every now and then. We had a good time and just loved our time up here. It was a wonderful experience.
HS: The importance of giving back to our alma mater is because of the students. I think for me is just responsibility. I’m a Christian. It’s the responsibility that you need to try to do for others when you have the ability to do so. On the business advisory council, we are privileged to be able to have some of the students that are recipients to the Dean’s Scholarships and whatnot, be able to speak to us. There was one young man, I’m not going to mention his name, and he stood up in front of the group and he came from El Salvador, I believe. Basically they had to leave the country, violence was terrible and so he, his mom and dad left. This young man, no family ever in school before, he stood in front of us and he wept because of the impact the scholarship made on his life. Now he is working for a big bank. If you want to change a life, give. These kids, especially the ones working so hard and have the jobs, just give. It’s a privilege for us to be able to give.
KS: Giving back, I mean that’s what it’s about. The Bible talks about paying it forward and trying to help others in need. If you ever get to a point in your life, and I think we all can at times, to try to pay it forward to help the students. That’s been instilled in us from day one, that life's not about us. A sermon that I heard, that I thought was good, was called The Dash. Your date of birth is not important and your date of death is not important. Really all that is important is the dash in between. What you did with your life and how you tried to help other folks.
HS: We’re so thankful to help anywhere we can and we are so proud of our assistance with the Energy Summit because it has helped catapult Appalachian to notoriety amongst the nation... Last year we saved---
KS: We’re a total of 499 million in avoided costs by all the universities working together.
HS: And that’s just in the university system. That doesn’t include all these other, that was a total of 50, involved universities from all over the country. So everybody is learning from each other. We have so many faculty that are doing great things with sustainability...teaching. Again, when you’re in a place like Boone, North Carolina where all you have to do is look at the window and see all the important things that we need to protect for future generations.
KS: It is important to teach these students sustainability. We want to leave something for the next generation behind us, too. That’s so important and it goes back to life’s not all about us, it’s about everyone else too. So we need to leave something for the next generation. I think we are doing a great job of, these professors teaching our students that.
HS: We’re getting an award?
KS: I wasn’t told that. I was told this was the funnies.
HS: I was told this was a free lunch thing...
KS: That’s the only thing I was told there was a free meal involved. I didn’t know this was going to be a...well, it’s always an honor. But, as we’ve told many people, there are so many people that do so much more than we do and who pay it forward. Hopefully we can continue to just try to make a difference and appreciate the what I call an atta boy. Get patted on the back and go okay that’s great now let’s get back to work then.
HS: I think part of it too is it’s teamwork or, as we say at Appalachian, it’s a family. We do a little bit here and there, but we are working hand in hand with faculty and staff and administration on whatever it is. Again, it’s the fun stuff where you know you can help a little bit and may impact a student’s life. And again, that’s the really good stuff.