Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith, double major in exercise science and biology, received the inaugural Elizabeth Miller Strickland Trailblazer Award. Smith stands in HPU’s recently newly constructed Strickland Scholarship Plaza, where the names of donors to HPU’s scholarship endowment funds are engraved in recognition and gratitude.

HIGH POINT, N.C., May 14, 2021 – High Point University is proud to announce the nine finalists and inaugural winner of the Elizabeth Miller Strickland Trailblazer Award.

The Strickland Trailblazer Award, established by Elizabeth Miller Strickland, recognizes a trailblazing female who is a graduating senior with a monetary award intended to assist her with the transition from academia to life after High Point University. The Strickland Trailblazer epitomizes the qualities of hard work, passion for charitable and community service, perseverance and determination that define the life and legacy of Mrs. Strickland.

Candidates were nominated for consideration by the university’s deans and vice presidents. After being invited to apply, the Strickland Women’s Leadership Council selected and notified nine finalists, in addition to this year’s Trailblazer, all of whom received a monetary award and recognition for their extraordinary achievements, passion for High Point University and desire to make a difference in the world.

Brooke Smith, ’21, was named the inaugural winner of the Strickland Trailblazer Award. Smith, a biology and exercise science double major from Evergreen, Colorado, plans to attend medical school in pursuit of becoming a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Throughout the application process, Smith was praised for her hard work, dedication to service and leadership.

One of Smith’s nominators, Dr. Aaron Titus, professor of physics, said, “I have taught more than 2,000 students during my 23-year career, including HPU’s first National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and first Goldwater Scholar. Academically, she [Smith] is among the top 10 students I’ve taught in my career. She is the top pre-med student I have ever taught. Yet, these accomplishments pale in comparison to her community service, leadership and positive influence. Across all of the dimensions of success, including academic achievement, service and leadership, she is the best.”

“There were a lot of people that I have looked up to throughout my time at High Point,” said Smith, “and when I saw someone do something incredible that I was amazed by, it made me think about how I can make myself more like them. I am not the person I was when I came to the university because of all the opportunities I have had. Learn from your mentors, work together because you cannot do it alone, and take it one day at a time to make the world a better place. Thank you, Mrs. Strickland, for not only choosing to empower other women, but also for the legacy you represent and giving me the opportunity to carry that on.” 

Smith was awarded $5,000 to aid in her transition after college and has designated 10% of the award to Habitat for Humanity of High Point, Archdale & Trinity.

-Ashley Banegas of Greensboro, North Carolina

-Helen Barnett of Wilmington, North Carolina

-Erin Cornell of Port Jervis, New York

-Madison D’Ostuni of Suffield, Connecticut

-Emily Dillon of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

-Grace George of Wheeling, West Virginia

-Mary Green of Charlotte, North Carolina

-Rachel Lynch of Indialantic, Florida

-Ali Thanhauser of Raleigh, North Carolina

All of the finalists recently graduated in May and also received a monetary award to assist in their transition to post academia life. 

“Being one of the first finalists for this award has encouraged me in so many ways,” said Barnett, a studio art major. “It has allowed me to see what other people see in me and see the light that I often do not see in myself. It’s encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing and make an impact on other people.” 


CONTACT: Pam Haynes

Assistant Vice President for Communications


At High Point University, every student receives an extraordinary education in an inspiring environment with caring people.® HPU, located in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, is a liberal arts institution with 5,600 undergraduate and graduate students. It is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report for Best Regional Colleges in the South and No. 1 for Most Innovative Regional Colleges in the South. The Princeton Review named HPU in the 2021 edition of “The Best 386 Colleges” and on the Best Southeastern Colleges “2021 Best Colleges: Region by Region” list. HPU was recognized as a Great School for Business Majors and a Great School for Communication Majors. HPU was also recognized for Best College Dorms (No. 1), Most Beautiful Campus (No. 9), Best Career Services (No. 19) and Most Active Student Government (No. 19). For 10 years in a row, HPU has been named a College of Distinction with special recognition for career development, business and education programs, and The National Council on Teacher Quality ranks HPU’s elementary education program as one of the best in the nation. The university has 60 undergraduate majors, 63 undergraduate minors and 14 graduate degree programs. It is a member of the NCAA, Division I and the Big South Conference. Visit High Point University on the web at

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