Belmont students Emily Dempsey, Nikhil Saxena and Jim Mixon were panel members for Tuesday’s convocation centered on their experiences growing up in Portugal, Abu Dhabi and Kenya, respectively. A presentation designed to engage students in dialogue surrounding Belmont’s campus theme, Living in a Global Community, the discussion included a question and answer structure where audience members asked about topics including cultural differences, transition challenges and religious tolerance.
Although the students grew up in a number of countries, their perspectives on global communities were similar. Dempsey, who grew up in Portugal, said that living abroad for much of her life has enhanced her communication skills. “Not necessarily expressing myself, but understanding people. When you have people from everywhere with all kinds of accents and English is their second or third language…understanding what they mean, not just what they say is important,” she said.
Both she and Mixon came to Belmont to pursue a love for music, a career they hope to couple with a love for service and people. Through music, the pair said they believe they are able to communicate on a deeper lever than with words and can use the global language to bypass barriers and cultural differences.
Despite living in the U.S. for college, Mixon said he will always call Kenya his “patriotic home.” Living in international communities teaches you that home is relational and communal. Often, friends in these communities only stay three to five years, so you learn to find a home internally. “Home is the thing that I take with me. I’m creating my home with me,” Mixon said.
The convocation was the first of a monthly series designed to bring Belmont’s campus theme to students in an engaging way.
Belmont juniors Channing Moreland, Makenzie Stokel and Seth Clarke continue to expand the success of their startup What’s Hubbin,’ a company founded to help Nashvillians navigate through the local music scene, through local and national recognition. Moreland, Stokel and Clarke were the winners of the 2014 Belmont University Student Business Plan Competition hosted by the Belmont Center for Entrepreneurship.
WhatsHubbin.com was launched last year and has more than 3,000 users in the Nashville area including students, area residents and tourists. Users can view a calendar of shows at various stages and explore short profiles of all the local venues and local artists, tailoring their user profile to their own musical preferences.
Earlier this week, co-founder Moreland was selected to participate in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Global Student Entrepreneurship Award pitch competition in Miami, Fla. on behalf of What’s Hubbin’. In addition, What’s Hubbin’ was one of 10 companies chosen to participate in the second annual Sparks pitch competition hosted by SouthernAlpha last month. This competition drew established entrepreneurs including Marci Harris from PopVox in Redwood City, Calif., and Sanjay Parekh, a founder of Startup Riot in Atlanta, to judge the competition.
Moreland is also a finalist for the 2014 NEXT Awards’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for her work with What’s Hubbin’. Presented by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, the NEXT Awards recognize entrepreneurial-minded companies in Middle Tennessee, as well as the entrepreneurs who make a significant impact on our local economy, helping to make Nashville one of the best cities in the U.S. to start a business.
Moreland credits the Belmont entrepreneurship program with much of the company’s success.
“Belmont has provided so many opportunities that we may not have had otherwise,” she said. “After we were accepted into the Student Business Accelerator program, we were introduced to the Entrepreneurship Village which introduced us to all of these pitch and business plan competitions.”
Moreland continued that their professors have continued to provide advice and support on the company’s future endeavors. The company is currently working on redesigning the website and creating a mobile app before expanding to other cities.
A New York City native who lived much of his childhood in California, Belmont junior Jackson Wells’ life to date has spanned both coasts of the United States, but it’s a faraway locale that has captured his imagination. For this songwriting major and pop performer the Belmont motto “From Here to Anywhere” has taken on dramatic significance as his long-held fascination with Chinese culture has carried him to the heights of fame overseas, with fans literally numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
“After taking eight years of Spanish in school, I just found myself getting tired of it and started developing a real interest in Chinese,” said Wells, who began studying Mandarin in high school and is also minoring now in Chinese at Belmont. Belmont was a perfect choice for Wells due to the University’s prominence in music business fields and its location in Music City, but it also keeps the young singer-songwriter close to home as his family moved to Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee several years ago. And the Tennessee connections helped launch an unexpected journey that’s led to unimaginable success.
Knowing his interest in the Chinese culture, the Chinese tutor of one Jackson’s school friends invited him to go to China in 2012, for what Jackson thought was an opportunity to teach English to students there. Instead, he was encouraged to bring his guitar and asked to perform in the International Youth Music Festival in Chengdu. That year Jackson played in front of about 5,000 people. Return trips saw his audience gradually grow, and his prominence also began to rise exponentially on YouTube, with three music videos garnering more than 1.8 million views internationally. Two years later, Wells’ popularity in China has exploded. His most recent trip in August found him performing as a headliner at the festival, this time playing to more than 470,000 fans over three nights.
Belmont’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America scored significant acclaim this week with numerous national awards at the parent organization’s national conference, held Oct. 10-14 in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Bonnie Riechert, associate professor and chair of Belmont’s Department of Public Relations, was honored for her work as faculty adviser to the Belmont Chapter of PRSSA. Riechert received the national PRSSA Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award, based on service to the PRSSA Chapter through dedication and creative chapter guidance, effective student motivation, exceptional contributions to public relations education, supportive chapter advocacy and representation within the academic department and with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) sponsor Chapter and its members. The award includes an engraved trophy and a cash prize. Accredited in Public Relations and a member of the PRSA College of Fellows, Riechert has served as the Belmont PRSSA faculty adviser since coming to the faculty in 2006. She is the current president of the PRSA Nashville Chapter.
Chapel marks launch of Belmont’s Shoebox Drive
Belmont students Alina-Sarai and David Gal-Chis spoke to faculty, staff and students about Operation Christmas Child and their experience with the program during a convocation event held on Wednesday in the Chapel. The Gal-Chis siblings received Operation Christmas Child boxes in Romania as young children.
The world’s largest Christmas project of its kind, Operation Christmas Child uses gift-filled shoeboxes to share God’s love in a tangible way with needy children around the world. Since 1993, nondenominational nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse has collected and delivered more than 113 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 150 countries through Operation Christmas Child. More than 500,000 volunteers worldwide, with more than 100,000 of those in the United States, are involved in collecting, shipping and distributing shoebox gifts.
“Their mission is not just to bring joy to children. It goes beyond that. It has to do with the love of Jesus Christ and being able to show that through the gift of giving,” said David.