Being awarded the Dr. Charles E. Smith Endowed Scholarship means everything to Steven Beard. The Birmingham native plans to graduate from the UAB School of Dentistry in 2023, and he’s hoping to do it without taking on a lot of debt.

Steven Beard in front of the UAB School of Dentistry

Some dental students have to take out loans to help pay for their education and living expenses. Some, like Beard, also have families. Beard was a Chemical Engineering major at the University of Alabama. He went on to earn an MBA. So far, his dental school experience is even better than he imagined. “You see patients throughout their lives. You get to restore health to people … we need to see patients as people, not just procedures,” said Beard.

Beard made the decision to not take out any loans for living expenses. His scholarship pays approximately $5,000 a year, alleviating a lot of financial stress, and allowing him to focus on his clinical and educational studies. He can focus on his studies because of the generosity of one man, Dr. Charles E. Smith (’67) of Ozark, Ala. Like Beard, Dr. Smith had a strong financial background. Running a successful practice enabled him to give back to the School of Dentistry and help deserving students. “It makes me feel like I’m helping them make life a little easier financially,” said Smith. “My hope is Steven and others receiving the scholarship might help somebody else in the future.”

Thanks to the advice from a tenth grade teacher, Smith knew in high school he wanted to become a dentist. “Dentistry turned out to be the ideal profession for me. You’re taking care of people and it was the best choice for me,” he said. The path for Steven Beard is a little murkier. First, he had thoughts of being a chemical engineer. It wasn’t until he shadowed the father of a friend that the light came on. And while he admits dental school is rigorous, he is enjoying the journey. “Just learning about the body and how it all works together. There’s so much affected by the mouth and how everything in the body works together to make one cohesive unit,” said Beard.

Beard is making the most of his time at UAB. He serves on the ASDA new member outreach committee, and is the marketing director for the dental business club. So, he’s putting his MBA to work while in dental school. The dental business club assists in preparing students with the financial aspect of dentistry. For his benefactor, that was music to Charles Smith’s ears. “It makes me feel good that I’m contributing to someone who needs help,” said Smith.

For more information on how to endow a scholarship, contact J. Scott Huffman, CFRE at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (205) 790-2802.