The Stephen R. Smith Scholarship | UNB

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The Stephen R. Smith Scholarship

The Stephen R. Smith Scholarship was established to commemorate the life of Stephen Ronald Smith (LLB ’86), who died tragically in a car accident on January 29, 1993.

Stephen was born in 1961 in Moncton, NB. He graduated from Saint John High School before enrolling at Dalhousie University. He was very smart, very social, and had lots of friends. During his time at Dal, Stephen was the don of his residence, Studley Hall. He enjoyed the challenge of trying to quell the more rebellious students at the residence—perhaps foreshadowing his future interest in criminal law and advocacy. He graduated from Dal with a Bachelor of Science in 1982.

In the back of his mind, Stephen always wanted to enter medicine, but after rejection from McGill’s Medical School, he found his true calling, the law. He began his legal studies at UNB Law in 1983. Always one to support himself, Stephen spent his summers working for the City of Saint John. He completed his LLB in 1986, and upon graduation, served as an auxiliary constable for the RCMP—one of the many ways Stephen gave back to his community. He was admitted to the NB Bar in August of 1987, completing his articling with Brian Neill’s law firm in Saint John. He eventually became an associate with Cox and Palmer Saint John, where he practised criminal law.

His father, William (Bill) Smith, recounts receiving 3 a.m. phone calls from the Saint John City jail from some of Stephen’s “potential clients.”

“We would get phone calls from some of the fellows in jail that were there overnight for ‘safekeeping.’ They were allowed to make a telephone call. Someone had written Stephen’s number—our number—on the wall by the telephone. It read, ‘this guy can help you!’. I would tell them to lay back down and not to say anything to anyone.”

Stephen loved nature, the outdoors, and animals—especially his Labrador retriever Daisy. He was an avid bird hunter, and, with Daisy by his side, hunted geese, ducks and woodcock. He is remembered as compassionate, admired, and someone with the ability to connect with people from all walks of life.

After his passing, Stephen’s parents, Bill and Joan (nee Sherwood) Smith, his many friends, and his colleagues came together to create a memorial scholarship in Stephen’s name. They raised nearly $180,000 to establish the generous award that provides $10,000 towards the cost of the recipient’s first year at UNB Law. Over the past 27 years, the Stephen R. Smith Scholarship has helped make the dreams of attending law school a reality for 28 deserving UNB Law students.

“If your outlook is to always try to look on the brighter side of life, as Joan and I believe, then we can see that a lot of good has come out of this tragedy. Since Stephen’s death, we have helped a lot of people and we are happy to do that. It’s not just us, it is all of the supporters, all of his friends, classmates, and fellow lawyers.”

Congratulations to the 2020 recipient of the Stephen R. Smith Scholarship

The 2020 recipient of the Stephen R. Smith Scholarship is Fredericton native Jake Bryden. Jake studied Civil Engineering Technology at NBCC Moncton before spending four years working across Canada as a construction surveyor on projects such as the Syncrude Base Mine, the Energy East Proposal, and the Fundy Trail Parkway. He returned to UNB in 2016 to obtain his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management, majoring in water resource management. Jake’s decision to attend law school stemmed from his time in the field as a surveyor.

“I witnessed construction practices which resulted in both positive and negative environmental implications—this sparked my interest in the fight to ensure responsible and sustainable resource use. More specifically, I developed a passion for water resources. The topic fascinates me, from the protection of rivers, lakes, and oceans to ensuring everyone has access to clean drinking water.”

Jake also hopes to utilize his law degree to help those in his community.

“I also want to help the people who may have drawn some tough cards in their life. I want to utilize the degree in a way that allows me to help people get back on track. Law was really the perfect fit. I can simultaneously pursue my goals of environmental stewardship and community engagement.” 

Jake is heavily involved in his community. He volunteers with Best Buddies, an organization devoted to providing meaningful friendships and guidance for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is a member of the UNB Law Environmental Society as well as a Director-at-Large with the Sierra Club Canada, a grassroots foundation devoted to protecting, restoring, and enjoying healthy and safe ecosystems. When he’s not studying or volunteering, he goes on adventures in his 1975 Volkswagen Van with his friends and girlfriend Sandra. These adventures usually include canoeing, fishing, skiing, and mountain biking. He also makes regular trips to his grandmother’s potato farm, and, his friend Allan MacDougall’s sustainable vegetable farm in Lincoln.

“My sincerest thank you to the Smiths and the other donors behind this scholarship. Your donations have had a profound impact on my law school experience—I can now focus on my studies without the added stress of student debt. I have extra time to continue volunteering in my community for the movements I am passionate about. I feel tremendously thankful and extremely blessed. I am excited to someday give back and help support students in their dreams of attending law school.”

UNB Law is grateful for the kindness and commitment of all our donors. We look forward to sharing more stories about our donors, their scholarships, and the recipients in future editions of Nexus.

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