Scholarships Make a Difference

An East Carolina University student scholarship makes a difference now and well into the future, and is one possible gift a person can make on March 20, during Pirate Nation Gives, ECU’s annual day of giving.

Tierney Reardon is a junior and a Brinkley-Lane Scholar in the Honors College pursuing dual majors and a minor in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences: a Bachelor of Science degree in political science, a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, a minor in religious studies and a pre-law concentration.

She is the inaugural recipient of the Dr. James LeRoy Smith Philosophy and Religious Studies Scholarship, which is also the first of its kind that supports students in the department. The scholarship was established in honor of Smith, an influential ECU faculty member who still teaches part-time in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. It was endowed by Mr. Edwin Nelson Strother and Mrs. Sue Harpole Strother in October 2022.

“I am so honored to have been chosen to receive the Dr. James LeRoy Smith Philosophy and Religious Studies Scholarship, and I know the scholarship will continue to be of great assistance to students in the future. Especially for students in smaller departments, it means a lot to be receiving financial support in addition to the professional support professors can offer. There are not always as many scholarships to address the needs of the students in the smaller departments, so I’m glad to see that our needs are also being prioritized,” she said.

Smith, who was an initial hire to the department in 1969, worked continuously for the betterment of the institution. Among his many roles at ECU, he served as chair of the faculty (1983-85) and as department chair (1981-1990), executive assistant to the chancellor (1993-2003) and assistant secretary to the ECU Board of Trustees (1993-2005). He also led the university’s reaccreditation process in 1990-92 and served as interim provost (2003-2004) and provost (2006-2007). As a faculty member, Smith influences countless students through his classroom instruction and mentorship, and now the scholarship in his name enhances their opportunities.

“I remain deeply grateful and honored by the scholarship support rendered by the Strother family to our students,” Smith said. “I am vastly aware of the worth of such support to them. Not only does it open more academic doors, but it gives them a heightened sense of their own value to be supported in such a magnificent manner.”

Hoping to attend law school once she completes her degrees, Reardon received valuable law career skills through an assigned study abroad experience and internship at Parliament in London, England, last summer. She also has held internships with ECU’s Office of Global Affairs and the Pitt County District Attorney’s office.

“Receiving scholarship money has enabled me to take advantage of many more opportunities than I would have been able to otherwise,” Reardon said. “I’m very grateful for the financial support I have received, and now pursuing additional education – in my case, law school – has become more accessible.”