Rising senior social work major Rebecca Sanders trekked many miles and asked many difficult questions during Professor Dr. Andy Watt’s Maymester program as she and her team learned the history of the western U.S.’s land and people.
The trip began May 12 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where Sanders met with tribal elders and local artists to hear their stories and visit important, local sites. The next stop was the Crow Reservation in Montana to learn about the Battle of Little Big Horn and Crow culture. Soon after, the group traveled to Yellowstone National Park to participate in the park’s Wolf and Bear Exploration and Cody, Wyoming for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The trip concluded May 29 in Keystone, South Dakota with stops at Mt. Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Sylvan Lake and Badlands National Park.
Sanders explained that Belmont prepared her for the trip by teaching the value of a good question asked in humility. “As we traveled to two Native American reservations, the first national park and various sites along the way, we asked hard questions. We asked about the justice of American westward expansion as we learned from our Lakota and Crow friends. We asked about the health of eco-systems within Yellowstone National Park and the controversy over wolves and bison. We asked about the nature of respect owed to historical figures. Belmont has taught me to never stop asking questions,” she said.
Students participate in chemistry and physics research throughout the summer as part of research fellowship program
What’s the concentration of vitamins in orange juice? How can waste destruction processes be improved? What are the benefits (or lack of) in buying organic produce? Those are just a few of the research questions being tackled by sixteen students participating in Belmont’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, or SURFs, program.
Based on the vision of Chemistry and Physics Department Chair Dr. Robert Magruder and supported by six faculty members, SURFs offers a unique opportunity for students studying chemistry and physics to try their hand at a long-term research project. For some, the summer will be spent working on senior projects, a requirement for graduation. Other participants are continuing work thought up by their research advisor and project mentor.
Dean of the College of Sciences and Mathematics Dr. Thom Spence said SURFs came out of the desire to strengthen the undergraduate research culture at Belmont and allow students the opportunity to engage in research early in their collegiate careers. Designed to augment the established Summer Scholars Program which supports the research of 23 rising seniors in the Biology Department, the SURFs program affords students the opportunity to engage in research early in their collegiate careers. Emphasizing the difference between learning science and engaging with it, Spence said both aspects of a scientific education are vital to a student’s success.
For senior music business major Samuel Dallas, this summer has been one giant learning experience after another, producing “Wicked” results that continue to fuel Dallas’s long term goals.
After spending the spring semester working as an assistant to the creative team at a Broadway workshop, Dallas received a recommendation for a summer internship split between two production companies, Stone Productions and 321 Theatrical Management. The combined full time positions have given Dallas the opportunity to work on a variety of shows including “Wicked,” “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Next to Normal,” among others.
Working in the Broadway General Manager’s Office at 321 and the Broadway Producing Office at Stone, Dallas spends his days assisting with running the show behind the scenes including financial wraps, managing front of house, working with investor distributions and payroll.
With sights set on ultimately producing and managing his own shows some day, Dallas said the choice to spend the summer in New York City was an easy one. Working under mentors who have developed long and sustainable careers on Broadway, Dallas knows he’s learning from the best. “These people have done it all and know the ins and out of the industry – and I believe you can only be as good as your teacher,” Dallas said. “Learning from these amazing leaders gets me excited to come into work everyday.”
Although all the shows managed and produced by 321 and Stone have provided invaluable learning opportunities this summer, Dallas looks to “Wicked” as the one he’s most grateful for. “The show is an amazing learning tool because of its strength and long-running history in the industry. Hands-on experience with shows in the office allow me to learn by doing.”
Dallas credits much of his success to his network, community and the opportunities that have come from his time at Belmont. Without the experiences he has been offered within the industry, Dallas said he wouldn’t have had the credibility needed to land his ideal summer job. “Belmont has allowed me to get unique hands-on experience with the industry. I’m not a number, I’m a person,” Dallas said. “I have been able to use the opportunities throughout campus and Nashville to build my resume and make it strong enough to come to New York City and dive into the Broadway administration community.”
Kirk Bado, a rising junior politics and public law major and journalism minor, is playing a huge role in shaping the future of Nashville. Bado is one of seven students actively informing fellow millennials by profiling mayoral candidates. After his feature on candidate Linda Eskind Rebrovick was published in The Tennessean, Bado was asked to write a second piece urging Nashville’s younger crowd to vote in the upcoming election. Finally, Bado participated in the NashForward debates as Eskind Rebrovick’s liaison and participant in the town hall-style event.
As the editor of Belmont’s student newspaper, The Belmont Vision, Bado is responsible for selecting the publication’s content and tone and challenges writers in their leadership capabilities and style. Leadership is one of a few bonding topics that Bado and Eskind Rebrovick were able to discuss throughout his Nashforward experience. “I love reading and studying about leadership, so to have the opportunity to pick her brain in such a casual setting was a goldmine of learning that you don’t get in books,” he said. Through this guidance, Bado said his goal for the fall semester “is to change the stereotype of the Vision from those pesky scheming kids above Gabhart to very approachable and easy to work with writers.”
Bado said a major highlight from his debate involvement was meeting many influential people in Nashville, including President and Publisher of the Tennessean Laura Hollingsworth, and now-mentor David Plazas, host of the NashForward debates and Tennessean Opinion Engagement Editor. Through this mentorship, Bado pitched his second Tennessean article and is working with Plazas to plan a convocation program for students in the fall. “David is really helping make me into the leader and writer I aspire to be,” said Bado.
The second of the NashForward debates focused on the needs of the millennial generation, which makes up a large portion of Nashville’s population. With two bylines in a major metro paper under his belt, Bado explained why he is so passionate about getting his peers to pay attention. He was concerned that upon looking into the audience at the first Nashforward debate, he saw only adults and 20-somethings there by requirement. With such big decisions facing our city, Bado said he felt the room should have been packed with his peers. “So basically I emailed David and said ‘Hey I wrote this, what do you think?’ And he replied, ‘This is really good and insightful Kirk, mind if we run it?’ I was floored that he wanted to run it and said, ‘of course!'”
Throughout the Nashforward process, Bado said Plazas and his team gave generous creative control, and the students ran with it. Bado feels lucky to have been involved and made the connections that he has. “I love it here, and Belmont has become a home to me, a community I care passionately about. Belmont let me have this opportunity because I was active in seeking it,” Bado said. “It’s like what Dumbledore said to Harry Potter. ‘Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.’ My spin on that is – opportunities will always be given at Belmont to those who seek them.”
LP Field show will also feature alumnus Brad Paisley as opening act
Who doesn’t dream of being a rock star? For at least one day, 24 Belmont University students will see that dream realized in dramatic fashion, as they perform on stage next week with arguably the greatest rock band of all time. Led by Belmont University’s Chorale director, Dr. Jeffery Ames, the Belmont ensemble will join the Rolling Stones for a song on the band’s upcoming June 17 ZIP CODE Tour stop at Nashville’s LP field.
Ames, who serves as director of choral activities at Belmont and is a well-known conductor/composer in his own right, said the students are excited “Beyond belief, actually! Within the Belmont community, our students annually collaborate with great stars within the music industry like Trisha Yearwood, CeCe Winans, Michael W. Smith, to name a few. But a historic rock band such as the Rolling Stones? Epic….”
The Nashville show is the seventh stop on a 15-city stadium tour that began May 24 in San Diego and wraps up July 15 in Quebec. Belmont alumnus Brad Paisley will also be the opening act for the Stones’ visit to Music City.