Kyle Smith Named Garrison Social Justice Scholar for Class of 2026

Kyle Smith has been selected as the Garrison Social Justice Scholar for the Class of 2026. Smith’s honor was announced by Assistant Dean and Martha Craig Daughtrey Director for Public Interest Beth Cruz ’10.

kyle smith garrison
Kyle Smith

The Garrison Social Justice Scholarship supports students who will use their legal training to advance social justice by serving clients who have been disenfranchised, suffered discrimination, and who are unable to protect their rights. The scholarship, which is endowed by Amy Price Garrison (BA’79) and Frank M. Garrison ’79 (BA’76) through the Amy and Frank Garrison Social Justice Fund, is awarded each spring to a member of the current 1L class. Garrison Scholars receive a supplemental annual scholarship for their second and third years of law school.

The scholarship also includes stipend support to allow recipients to pursue unpaid legal work with public interest organizations during the two summers prior to graduation. Smith will spend his 1L summer participating in the ACLU of Kentucky’s Southern Legal Internship Program, a program sponsored by the National Black Law Students Association in collaboration with the 12 states in the ACLU’s Southern Collective.

“The generous support provided by the Garrison Social Justice Scholarship will allow me to move one step closer to achieving my professional goal of leading a career in advocacy and litigation,” said Smith. “The opportunity to support the Southern Collective’s work in reforming criminal law, which disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities, is deeply personal for me and was a crucial part of my decision to become a lawyer.”

A first-generation law student, Smith seeks to launch a career focused on civil rights in the south. He chose Vanderbilt because of the school’s collegial atmosphere and the myriad experiential opportunities offered by the George Barrett Social Justice Program and the Public Interest Office. “I wanted the chance to be in an environment that was academically rigorous but also supportive, and throughout my experience as a 1L, Vanderbilt has been a place where I have been supported while also being challenged,” he said.

During his first year, Smith participated in the Street Law Program, providing Nashville residents with information and resources related to tenant rights and other housing-related matters. As a 2L, he will serve as co-director of that program and explore other opportunities, including journals and clinics.

Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy, with a Minor in International Affairs, from Georgia Tech. Before attending Vanderbilt, he worked as a congressional aide for U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (Maryland) in Washington, D.C., serving as a speechwriter.