Belmont senior Tom Haarlander is paving his road to success through three entrepreneurship ventures that provide medical supplies, manufacture them in China and import the products into Europe and the United States. Although he expects to gross nearly $6 million between his three companies this year, the University gave him an unprecedented opportunity Wednesday to practice his pitch before venturing to trade shows to promote teeth-whitening cold wave lasers, anti-aging facial probes and medical optical lamps.
“[The Center for Entrepreneurship] brings stability to what you are doing. I can put my foot to the gas and run all over, but if I don’t have a solid foundation, it will fall apart,” Haarlander said.
Forty-two businesses participated in Belmont’s first-ever Entrepreneurship Village held Wednesday morning under white tents surrounding the Bell Tower. Thirteen alumni returned to Belmont for the village, including Erin O. Anderson, owner of artist management company Olivia Management.
“The best thing [about the village] is getting to know students at Belmont and getting to encourage them,” said Anderson (’06). “I tell them, ‘You may not be sure what you want to do, but you can do it on your own.’ It’s been fun to encourage students to start their own businesses.”
The village featured companies of various industries including smart phone applications, graphic design, videography, photography, music publishing, construction, vintage jewelry, custom apparel printing and textbooks. The purpose of the event was to display the innovation, creativity and success of Belmont’s entrepreneurship students and alumni. (more…)
While in his junior year in Belmont’s Social Entrepreneurship program, Austin Sauerbrei discovered a “Free Store” in Columbus, Ohio, and a dream was born.
After graduating in December 2010, Sauerbrei set out to make his project a reality. The process began with a trip to Columbus, Ohio to visit his initial inspiration. The trip was followed by almost nine months of planning before the store finally opened its doors in December 2011, a year after Austin graduated from Belmont.
Almost immediately after opening, the store was a success. “The first weekend there were only about 20 to 25 people, then we had 30 the next week and then 50 the week after that.”
Recently, on Saturday Aug 18—a little over six months since its opening—the store set a new record; over 90 people came through, and there are now over 400 registered members.
Every Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon the store is open to anyone and everyone. Because the space is so small, only four people are able to enter the store itself at one time. In a waiting area members of the community help themselves to coffee, snacks and conversation.
A large part of the store’s success comes from the high level of engagement of its shoppers. Of the over 400 registered members, Sauerbrei approximates that 70 to 80 percent have donated products and almost 20 percent have volunteered at the store. (more…)
Supporters establish Melinda Doolittle Endowed Scholarship
Belmont alumna Melinda Doolittle, a commercial voice major who graduated in 1999, returned to campus Wednesday to be interviewed by Director of Development and Major Gifts Harry Chapman as part of the ongoing series, “The Insider’s View.” Following her Belmont years, Doolittle launched her professional career as a backup singer and then experienced an incredibly successful run on the sixth season of TV juggernaut “American Idol,” where she ultimately placed in the top three.
“I loved singing background and being the support system for artists,” Doolittle said of her time working with a long list of talent that included BeBe and CeCe Winans, Michael McDonald, Kirk Franklin, Alabama and Jonny Lang. “I got to sing with so many different artists, and it really stretched me.”
Those opportunities and her Belmont education helped prepare her for her stint on “American Idol” where she developed as an artist in her own right. “I was finding my own voice on stage every single week… ‘American Idol’ is like boot camp for singers, and it teaches you how to accept criticism. You have to get tough skin to work in this business. ‘American Idol’ put that fire in me that I didn’t know that I had, fire to be the front person, fire to be an artist.”
Since her time on ‘Idol,’ Doolittle has released her debut CD, Coming Back to You (2009), to rave reviews as well as her first book, Beyond Me (2010), in addition to performing at events everywhere from the White House to the Musicians Hall of Fame to the Kennedy Center to Carnegie Hall. Her love of music and performing is eclipsed only by her love of giving back, as she dedicates much of her time to working with numerous charities, including the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and Malaria No More.
In addition, Doolittle just announced that her supporters, Melinda’s Backups, have been raising money for several years to establish a scholarship fund at her alma mater to continue the singer’s legacy of giving back. Commercial music majors in the College of Visual and Performing Arts will be eligible for the Melinda Doolittle Endowed Scholarship.
Doolittle noted, “My main goal is to make sure my career is a marathon and not a sprint. I want to foster longevity and build my career to have a platform to make a difference.”
The singer concluded her session in the Massey Performing Arts Center with a few words of wisdom for the students in attendance: “You never know when the door to opportunity is going to open for you. The catch is whether or not you’re prepared for it when it does… My motto is dream big, pray hard and be prepared, and I challenge everyone to do that.”
Belmont University alumnus and multi Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music award-winning artist Brad Paisley recently established an endowed scholarship at his alma mater. The Brad Paisley Endowed Scholarship will provide financial assistance for a deserving student with demonstrated need who is studying in the Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.
Paisley said, “I’ve often said that the best course of education for a young person wanting to pursue country music is to go to college at Belmont. I speak from experience. I wouldn’t be in any position to offer a scholarship if I had not gone to Belmont – this is the least I can do in appreciation.”
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher added, “I’ve heard Brad say that he ‘got his big break’ when he set foot on the campus of Belmont University, a place where he met fellow students who became members of what became ‘Team Paisley.’ Well, we’ve come full circle to realize that Belmont University and future students got our big break when Brad arrived on campus. We’re deeply grateful for his continued friendship and his commitment to making Belmont better than it was when he first found us.”
In 2003, Paisley received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Belmont. A 1995 graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, Paisley majored in music business at what was then the Mike Curb School of Music Business. During his Belmont career, Paisley himself benefitted from a scholarship supported by Vince Gill and has long been committed to “paying it forward” to another deserving student.
About Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley is the reigning Academy of Country Music Male Vocalist of the Year, his fifth consecutive, with a total of 14 Academy of Country Music Awards and 14 Country Music Association Awards including Entertainer of the Year for 2010. He has placed 20 singles at the top of the charts and his current album, This Is Country Music, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. He released his first book, Diary of a Player, on Nov. 1, 2011 and was on the New York Times Best Seller list for two weeks. His “Virtual Reality World Tour 2012” just completed its first leg and played to over 218,000 fans with 19 sell-outs. The tour continues on May 18 in St. Louis and continues through mid-October.
About the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business
The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business strives to combine academic experience with real world applications and seeks to achieve its mission by implementing innovative courses of study in the entertainment and music industries. Featured in Time, Rolling Stone, Billboard and Business Week, CEMB offers three degrees and four majors—a BBA in Music Business and a BA or BS in Audio Engineering Technology, Entertainment Industry Studies and Songwriting—and provides invaluable experiential learning opportunities like the Belmont East (New York City) and Belmont West (Los Angeles) programs, through which students expand their cultural experiences and career opportunities as they reside, learn, work and network. Coupled with entertainment internship opportunities available on and around Music Row, these programs augment students’ chances for entrepreneurial endeavors and career advancement.
Homecoming 2012 was a success with alumni returning to campus to make their “Destination: Belmont.”
The week-long celebration began Feb. 13 and featured several concerts, a residence hall banner competition for students, a campus-wide pep rally and bonfire and concluded with a basketball doubleheader.
Hope Cooper, a senior studying public relations and education, and Taylor Dillon, a junior studying management, were elected Homecoming Queen and King. Also on the Homecoming Court were Bianca Edwards, Katie Hudson, Shirah Foy, Shai Wilkins, Johnathan Butler, Kevin Deschler, Jordan Kirkdorffer and Rami Nofal.
A highlight of Belmont’s Homecoming 2012 week was the Fourth Annual Alumni Art Exhibit, which opened Jan. 23 and runs through Feb. 24. The exhibit showcases the artwork of several esteemed alumni and is being held in the Leu Center for the Visual Arts in Gallery 121. The exhibit features multiple mediums to depict this year’s University theme of “Wealth and Poverty.” The alumni whose works are represented–L.A. Bachman (’06), Matt Chenoweth (’07), Paul Chenoweth (’08), Bethany Taylor (’07), Leah Tumerman (’05), Laura Amstutz Weibezahn (’08), and Ron York (’75)–responded to an open call to all Belmont graduates.
Belmont 2002 graduate Eric McLaughlin returned to campus Feb. 15 for the Homecoming Chapel to discuss the work he, his family and others doctors are doing in Africa. Dr. Peter Kuryla, professor of history, gave the Simmons Distinguished Lecture this year with a presentation titled “A Prosthetic Aesthetic: William and Henry James, The Father Problem and the Case of the Cork Leg.”
Julie Thomas, director of constituency programs in the Office of Alumni Relations, said, “Belmont alumni are such an important part of this institution. Homecoming is the perfect time for us to honor and celebrate our alums and welcome them back to campus.”
Click here to view photos from Homecoming 2012.