UM-Grenada Graduate Invested in Community and Education
After 20 years, local law enforcement official completes his college degree.
Over the past 20 years, LC Smith, of Duck Hill, (pictured) has made it his mission to spread the message in his community that education can lead to a bright future.
He’s served as a law enforcement officer throughout those years, but he has also been serving as an example to his community by working to complete his own college degree.
This month he will accomplish his goal, when he graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Mississippi’s Grenada campus.
“I believe in the power of education,” Smith said. “You can do anything you want and sometimes you’ve got to invest in yourself and your own education. It is worth your time and effort.”
One of the missions he takes seriously in his various leadership positions is not only protecting and serving the citizens of his community, but also inspiring them to better themselves. For the past several years, he has attended the pre-K graduation at a local daycare in Duck Hill.
“I bring the kids a bag with little trinkets and gift certificates,” Smith said. “I want them to learn early that hard work pays off, and working hard in the classroom can be rewarding.”
“Our community needs to invest in educating every child.”
This spring, Smith will complete what he has stressed to his area youth and what he himself has been working toward little by little for over 20 years.
“I’m just so happy that I could finally finish my college courses and get that degree in my hand,” Smith said. This is a huge personal accomplishment for me.”
Smith began taking classes with Holmes Community College in Grenada in 1994.
“I would take a class here and there when I had time,” Smith said.
Time was something that Smith hasn’t had a surplus of during his years in law enforcement.
At one time, he was serving as a police officer in Grenada, a constable for Montgomery County, the police chief of Duck Hill, a reservist in the Army National Guard, and taking college courses all at the same time.”
“I was pretty busy,” Smith recalled.
His career in service began immediately after graduating from Grenada High School in 1988. He joined the U.S. Army and began training in Fort Seale, Okla. During his four-year enlistment he spent 18 months stationed in Geissen, Germany.
“Working abroad was a learning experience for me, but I was ready to get back home.”
After his four-year contract with the Army was completed, he opted to join the Army National Guard reserves and move back to Grenada County. He was quickly hired by the Grenada Police department and later went on to serve at the Winona and Duck Hill police departments.
In 1996, he decided to run for election as a constable in Montgomery County. He is now serving his sixth consecutive term in this position.
“I enjoy serving as the constable,” Smith explained. “I get to help people with their problems. I get to talk with my neighbors and support them. I work with my area judge and serve as a bailiff when he is on the bench. I feel like I am a part of my community.”
The idea of completing his college degree stayed on his mind. After taking pre-requisites at Holmes-Grenada, Smith drove to the UM-Oxford campus and began taking classes in the School of Education in the early 2000’s.
“I just enjoyed being around people who had big plans for their lives,” Smith recalled.
“Students and teachers were working together and having important discussions. It seemed like everyone was really trying to accomplish something, not just go to school. I was really inspired.”
He eventually changed his major to Criminal Justice and continued taking classes in Oxford when he could, but in 2004 he had to leave college unexpectedly.
“I got a free plane ticket to Afghanistan,” Smith said.
He served with his National Guard Unit oversees for over a year. In April 2006, he returned home and became the police chief in Duck Hill and continued serving as constable.
In 2013, he met UM-Grenada Associate Director and fellow national guardsman, Jessica Hughes.
“Jessica asked me if I had thought about completing my degree,” Smith said. “I told her I had but that driving to Oxford wasn’t feasible for me at the time. She told me that Ole Miss now offered classes in Grenada and made an appointment for me to come by the office.”
“Before I walked out of her office that next day, she had most of my paperwork ready and had worked out a schedule for me. She made it too easy. I just needed to sign my name.”
Smith began his taking courses at night with UM-Grenada in the fall of 2014, and has taken night classes each semester since.
“Because he is more mature, LC didn’t take anything for granted,” UM Legal Studies Instructor Amy Vanderford said. “When he came to class, he was fully engaged. He was there to learn.”
Vanderford said that having LC in her classes actually helped other students grasp the material better.
“His maturity and experiences in law enforcement brought a lot of ideas to the table that other students could learn from. It really helped me to have a student of his caliber in my classes.”
Smith says he hopes to continue on helping others.
“I would love to teach one day or assist in training,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of people, and seen a lot of things and I know that educating yourself and learning to see things from other points of view is the key to a great community.”