CSC News

June 11, 2024

Smiths Establish Scholarship Endowment

The Department of Computer Science (CSC) is pleased to announce that CSC alumna, Strategic Advisory Board vice-chair, and CSC Alumni Hall of Fame member Beth Smith (BS CSC ‘87) and her husband Joey, have made a generous donation to establish the Beth and Joey Smith Scholarship in Computer Science endowment to support future generations of computer science students at NC State University.


This endowment will provide scholarships for students pursuing, or intending to pursue, an undergraduate degree in Computer Science. The Smiths’ primary intent is to support incoming first-year students or transfer students who are residents of counties in eastern North Carolina (defined as the counties of Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, North Hampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson) and/or students who are current or former 4-H participants.


By creating this endowment with its unique award preferences, the Smiths are not only helping future generations of computer science students here at NC State University, they are also paying homage and respect to their heritage and the shared experiences that helped bring them together.


Beth and Joey grew up in rural eastern North Carolina, where they sense students do not always have access to the same educational opportunities as their counterparts growing up in Raleigh or Charlotte. “I had never programmed, or even used, a computer, when I decided to major in Computer Science. The newly introduced PC hadn’t yet become a part of every household, particularly not in small, rural communities,” said Beth. Once on campus, she embraced the computer science discipline, where she leveraged a coop opportunity into a very successful 35- year career at IBM, including serving as General Manager of IBM’s Watson AI. The Smiths made career moves to California and New York before settling back in North Carolina prior to Beth’s retirement in 2022.


“A lot of kids aren’t exposed to the world of opportunities; they only know what they see in their communities.” said Beth. “As we thought about how to help future generations, it was important to us to focus on opening doors for people that were more or less like the communities that we both grew up in.”


Why the 4-H component, the Smiths were asked. “4-H is a wonderful program for youth to learn the importance of leadership and personal responsibility, the value of goal setting, the spirit of teamwork and the value of giving back. And, we met through 4-H!” Beth said.


The Smiths were grateful for the chance to meet their inaugural scholarship awardee during the annual Engineering Endowment Dinner held in April in Talley Student Union.


After meeting their scholarship winner and other recipients, Beth said it helped reinforce to them the value of their investment in future generations. “When you meet these outstanding students, you realize there’s a person with a story and a strong ambition to achieve great things.”


Reminiscing about her career at IBM, Beth said “I started as a programmer and ultimately led several multi-billion-dollar business units. I’ve traveled all over the world for IBM and have worked with amazing people. In doing go, I have helped shape technologies like service- oriented-architecture and artificial intelligence to be relevant for today’s businesses. I could never have set those goals because I didn’t even know such possibilities existed.” The Smiths say this scholarship is a way to help others experience future opportunities that they don’t even realize are possible. “If we can do that,” Beth said, “That will be amazing.”



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