John Smith

Motlow College Foundation recently recognized two Motlow students as recipients of the John Smith Memorial Scholarship. Funded by the family of John Smith, who lost his life to sepsis, the scholarship is part of the Smith family’s efforts to support education and awareness of sepsis. Pictured are (from left) Drew Hooker, director of EMS education; Ashleigh Whaley, EMS student and Smith Scholarship recipient; Mandy Smith, daughter of John Smith; Debra Smith, John Smith’s widow and interim dean of students; Pat Hendrix, dean of nursing and allied health; Mark Miller, nursing student and Smith Scholarship recipient; and Amy Holder, director of nursing.

Motlow College Foundation recognized Mark Miller, nursing student, and Ashleigh Whaley, EMS student, as the recipients of the first annual John Smith Memorial Scholarship at a recent recipient-donor reception held on Motlow State’s Moore County campus.

The scholarship is evidence of how targeted giving can achieve community improvement and affect social change.

Memorializing the life of John J. Smith, who died from sepsis, the scholarship is a result of Smith’s family responding to their personal loss through specific philanthropic giving with a well-defined purpose: improve sepsis education and awareness in order to save lives.

The insightful leadership of Pat Hendrix, dean of Motlow’s nursing and allied health department, and the Smith family’s passion for increasing sepsis awareness, has placed Motlow at the national forefront in integrating sepsis instruction into student curricula and professional development.

Earlier this year, the Nursing and Allied Health department at Motlow and the family of John J. Smith, along with several area healthcare organizations, sponsored a Think Sepsis First conference to inform hundreds of students and healthcare professionals. The conference coincided with September as national Sepsis Awareness Month.

“The sepsis conference was a wonderful event for us to help initiate and sponsor, and we believe the impact of the conference will be far reaching in saving lives. But, as a family, we wanted to do more,” said Debra Smith, John’s widow. “Joining hands with the Foundation to annually provide a nursing and an EMS student with educational financial support seemed perfect to our family. John always gave so much to his community, his work and those he cared about. It means so much to us to remember John in this special way and to continue to push for greater sepsis awareness.”

“The public-private partnership between Motlow and the Smith family is a great example of how philanthropy through the Foundation can impact the community,” said Dr. Michael Torrence, Motlow president.

Lane Yoder, Foundation executive director, encourages donors to come to the Foundation with specific goals in mind.

“Incorporating Motlow’s educational missions with donors’ passions and interests can truly make a difference in the communities we serve,” said Yoder. “The John Smith Scholarship will provide greater sepsis awareness through education that leads to early and better detection of this serious disease, ultimately saving lives and preventing tragedies such as the one the Smith family has endured.”

The recipients of the John Smith Memorial Scholarship are recommended by faculty and have demonstrated leadership, defined as initiative in learning new skills and in provision of patient care. The nursing program recipient must be a second-year student, and the EMS program recipient must be enrolled in the paramedic program. The scholarship will be awarded for the next five years.

Readers who may have a personal passion that reflects a shared Motlow educational mission should consider partnering with Motlow College Foundation. Contact Lane Yoder at 931-393-1692 or

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