The Sharwan Smith Student Center is a part of almost every SUU student’s life on a daily basis. At all hours of the day, students can be found shooting pool in the Birdhouse, stuffing their faces at Chick Fil A, or kicking back with their friends in the Rotunda. Hundreds if not thousands of people walk by the waving and smiling statue of Sharwan Smith Day in, and day out. But who is Sharwan Smith? What is so special about her that the biggest and busiest building on campus is named after her? Not to mention that it is the only structure on campus named after a student. The story of Sharwan Smith embodies the type of individual that SUU seeks to produce.
(Stanlie) Sharwan Smith was born on November 25, 1970 in Provo, Utah. After graduating from Viewmont High School, she attended Southern Utah University. During her time at SUU, Sharwan served as the Student Body Vice President of Activities. She was known for her quick smile and eagerness to become involved in events and projects that would enhance the lives of others on campus.
In addition to her responsibilities as the VP of Activities, Sharwan was president of the Lambda Delta Sigma Sorority, an accomplished pianist, and was named the “Days of ‘47 Queen during the Pioneer Day celebration in 1990 in Salt Lake City. Before receiving her bachelor of arts degree in Spanish from SUU, she served an LDS mission in Argentina. Following her graduation, Sharwan went on to form the Smith Four singing group with her sisters Glenna, Stacie and Rebecca.
Beyond these accomplishments that can easily be written on paper, Sharwan had a deep and lasting impact on many people during her time at SUU. Kimber Heaton, Student Body President the year Sharwan served as activities VP, said of her, “Sharwan turned out to be the ideal candidate for activities vice president. When it came to having fun, she was a natural. Sharwan naturally treated everyone like they were her best friends. She was lively and bubbly, and had a genuine concern for people.”
“You could meet Sharwan for just a few minutes and think that she was your lifelong friend. That’s the kind of person she was,” added Sterling Church, VP of Student Services.
Tragically, on May 18, 1995, Sharwan was killed in a one-vehicle car accident along with her niece Shilo Shurtliff. She left behind three sisters, two brothers, and her fiance Troy Church who she was to marry the following month.
Despite her premature death, a person like Sharwan Smith could never simply fade into distant memory. On March 11, 1997, the Sharwan Smith Student Center was dedicated in memory of Sharwan and her contributions to Southern Utah University.
“We think it is very appropriate that a facility which will impact the lives of so many current students is being named after a role model like Sharwan Smith. She typified the ideal student in so many ways. Her wholesome, open, active, and positive nature deserves emulation,” said Sterling Church.
Sharwan’s father, Hyrum Smith, turned to the words of William Shakespeare to describe his Daughter.
“Tis human fortune’s happiest height to be a spirit, melodious, lucid, poised and whole. Second in order of felicity is to walk with such a soul.”
While those who attend SUU no longer have the pleasure of walking with Sharwan, they have her legacy of kindness, friendship, hard work, and genuine love for all of those around her to remember and strive to emulate as they pass her, waving and smiling as she always did, in the Sharwan Smith Student Center.