Fort Wayne native Jaylon Smith, starting linebacker for the New York Giants, will highlight Trine University’s 19th annual Scholarship Gala, which will be held in-person on Feb. 11, 2023.
The Gala starts at 6 p.m. in the Keith E. Busse/Steel Dynamics, Inc. Athletic Recreation Center on Trine’s Angola campus.
In addition to Smith’s presentation, the evening will feature wine tasting, a gourmet dinner by Bon Appetit, live music provided by the Trine University Jazz Band, and live and silent auctions including sports memorabilia, vacations, jewelry, experience packages and artwork.
From Fort Wayne to the NFL
Smith attended Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, where he was part of state championship football teams all four years. In addition to football, he lettered in basketball and track.
In his senior year, he won Indiana’s Mr. Football award and the Butkus Award, given to the best high school linebacker in the country.
He started all 13 games over three straight seasons for Notre Dame, earning the FBS Independent Co-Defensive Players of the Year and second-team All-American honors in his second season, and the Butkus Award in his third season.
He was drafted 34th overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was elected a team captain in 2019 and was the Cowboys’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award in 2020, recognizing his outstanding community service activities off the field as well as his excellence on the field.
He joined the Giants during the 2021 season.
Off the field, he leads the Jaylon Smith Minority Entrepreneurship Institute (MEI), which seeks to close the economic and educational gap in minority communities across the Midwest and southeast through entrepreneurship. He is also co-founder of the Clear Eye View eyewear company and an investor in real estate and private equity.
“We’re excited to welcome Jaylon back to northeast Indiana, and to hear about his journey to the NFL and his dedication to providing communities of color the tools to succeed,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president. “As Trine University continues in its mission of giving opportunities to many deserving students, we look forward to all that Jaylon has to share with us.”
Millions raised for scholarships
Since its inception, the Scholarship Gala has raised millions for Trine University student scholarships, including more than $1 million during campaigns each of the last two years. Scholarship funds are a critical part of allowing students to attend Trine, which awarded more than $41 million in institutional aid in 2021-22.
The university will offer the opportunity to fund $500 Books and Beyond Scholarships during the Gala. Contributions to the Books and Beyond Scholarship program go directly to financially disadvantaged students, allowing them to purchase needed books, computers, school and lab supplies, and meals. Funds also help students pay modest account balances that will allow them to register next semester for classes.
Trine board chair and alumnus Dr. Rick L. James and his wife, Dr. Vicki L. James, and The James Foundation, Inc., as they have for a number of years, are offering a matching grant for Books and Beyond scholarships. The match will be $300,000.
“Vicki and I are glad to gather again with other friends of Trine University to provide critical scholarship and other support to allow students to afford the quality private education offered at Trine University,” said Rick James. “Books and Beyond, in particular, helps fill the gap not covered by traditional financial aid, and we are honored to assist in this way.”
Sponsorship packages and tickets are available through Feb. 4. To reserve tickets ($100 each), donate an auction item or get sponsorship details, visit trine.edu/gala or call (260) 665-4114.
For more information on the 2023 Trine Scholarship Gala, contact Gretchen Miller, vice president for administration/chief of staff, at email@example.com, or O’Shea Owens, director of alumni relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (260) 665-4114.