One of six children who graduated from Central State University, the only public historically black college or university in the state of Ohio, Joshua I. Smith has lived a life of action. The recipient of numerous awards, Smith can now also add “Alumnus of the Year” to his resume filled with a number of citations and honors for outstanding achievement over the years.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) recently named the 1963 cum laude graduate of Central State as the 2014 “Alumnus of the Year” for his many contributions as a nationally renowned entrepreneur, business executive and speaker.

Smith originally began his marveled career as a school teacher in Washington D.C. and served on the faculties of Central State and the University of Akron before making it big with his MAXIMA Corporation, one of the largest and fastest growing African American companies in the United States.

Smith has since been the recipient of over 400 awards and is a lifetime member of the first Black Greek Lettered Organization founded on the campus of Cornell University, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

“The increased costs of college, coupled with stricter [PELL] grant and [PLUS] loan requirements, limits college access for thousands of students today,” TMCF President & CEO Johnny C. Taylor Jr. said at its annual Award Gala held recently.

“Every five seconds a student drops out of college usually because of money,” he said. “For this reason, TMCF brings together the nation’s most influential people to recognize our honorees, celeb rate HBCUs, and to raise money for nearly 300,000 students who attend their institutions.”

Smith, alongside three other distinguished leaders, was honored at Thurgood Marshall’s 26th Annual Awards Gala for their achievements while using “their status to support education and positively impact the lives of students attending HBCUs.”

Central State also recently renamed a prominent building after the pioneering entrepreneur–the Joshua I. Smith Center for Education and Natural Sciences.