A Gala Night: The Smith-Hutson Banquet, 2022

The Smith-Hutson is a wonderful program, one made possible by the generosity of the “Smith-Hutson” partnership. This generous donation is funding 162 SHSU students–as well as students from other Universities–a full ride. The students receive these scholarships if they meet certain qualifications–it is a need-based scholarship with a thorough application–and are selected following an extensive interview process. The result is impressive in terms of both the students and what they accomplish.

The LEAP Ambassador President, Jessica Cuevas, is also Secretary for the Smith-Hutson Scholars Council.

The Smith-Hutson program is administered by Chris Garcia, who served as MC for the evening.


With 310 people on hand, numerous speakers, food to be served, a PowerPoint with photos of Smith-Hutson activities rolling, and a two-hour time limit, Chris had his hands full. He introduced three Smith-Hutson alumni…

…who spoke movingly about the way that the scholarship program affected their lives.

President White also spoke, communicating words of encouragement to the students and many, many thanks to the donor.

Jerry Hutson also spoke, providing much detail about the program, its broad purposes, and the impressive number of Smith-Hutson scholars who had graduated, who made the Dean’s List, and whose lives were changed by the program.

And the students themselves spoke briefly. The President of the SHS Council (Sandy Schoeneberg), for example, read out the name of (1) every officer, (2) every team, group, and subgroup leader, and (3) the different “houses” of the Smith-Hutson group.

This is a large group, perhaps as many as 40 students, some of whom are shown below.

The final speaker of the night was Provost Stephenson, who promised to make his comments “short and sweet, like Chris…”–to much laughter. The Provost emphasized the role that supporting one another can play in all of their success, while also drawing on the University culture of providing just that type of care.

On those words of encouragement, the night ended for the guests, while Smith-Hutson scholars took cohort photos, took photos with some stragglers…

…and helped tidy up after the event–armed anew with models of generosity and with the spirit of gratitude.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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