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Ward-Belmont Alumnae Celebrate Reunion and Centennial Anniversary of School

Belmont Ambassadors help escort alumnae into the Mansion.

Belmont Ambassadors help escort alumnae into the Mansion.

Hose and heels, one pair of white gloves and no hats were evident at the annual Ward-Belmont Alumnae Reunion as alumnae gathered on Nov. 2 in the Belmont Mansion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the school.

In 1913, Ward Seminary (a school for girls  then located in downtown Nashville) and Belmont College (a school for girls that started in 1890 on the site of Belmont’s campus after the death of Adelicia Acklen) merged to form a new school called Ward-Belmont. It was primarily a boarding school for young women seeking a two-year college degree, but over the years also included a boarding and day school for high school girls, a grammar school and a music conservatory.

Often, the college girls went on to Vanderbilt or other major universities for their last two years of higher education. Ward-Belmont was the first junior college in the South to receive accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In the spring of 1951, after several years of financial problems, the board of trustees decided to sell Ward-Belmont to the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and in the fall of 1951, the new Belmont College had its first co-educational freshman class. (more…)

Alumnus Travis Cottrell Receives Encore Award

Travis CottrellThe Belmont University School of Music presented the 2013 Encore Award Thursday evening to worship pastor/songwriter/Christian artist Travis Cottrell during a concert in his honor. The Encore Award was created in 2008 to honor a Belmont University School of Music alumnus for achievement in the field of classical music.  During last night’s award presentation in McAfee Concert Hall, Cottrell performed a selection of classical and sacred pieces as well as two original compositions: “Forevermore (Psalm 145)” and “Christ Be With Me (St. Patrick’s Breastplate).”

Cottrell, a native of Boone, North Carolina, graduated from Belmont (magna cum laude) with a degree in Church Music in 1992. His vocal talent was evident during his student years at Belmont. He became a Metropolitan Opera competition finalist and sang the role of Tevye in Belmont’s production of Fiddler on the Roof in 1992.

He currently serves as Worship Pastor at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn. A prolific songwriter and sought-after performer, Cottrell has performed or recorded with artists such as Amy Grant, Garth Brooks, Melinda Doolittle and CeCe Winans. He has also recorded several solo projects, including Found, Ring the Bells, When the Stars Burn Down and the Dove award-winning Jesus Saves Live. In 2010, Zondervan Press published his first book, Surprised by Worship: Discovering God Where You least Expect It, and in 2013 a journal version of the same book titled He Knows Your Name. Travis has been married to his wife Angela (a Belmont alumna) for 19 years, and they have three children – Jack, 16, Lily Kate, 13 and Levi, 10.

Previous Encore Award honorees include Clifton Forbis (2008), Daniel Weeks (2009), Drs. Daniel and Sharon Lawhon (2010), Maestra Teresa Cheung (2011) and Dr. Alfredo Colman (2012).

An ‘American Idol’ Inspires Students

Melinda DoolittleDuring a convocation Wednesday in Neely Dining Hall, Belmont alumna and past “American Idol” contestant Melinda Doolittle shared with students how her faith and family helped her overcome adversity and pursue her dreams.

Doolittle tells her story in her autobiography “Beyond Me: Finding Your Way to Life’s Next Level.” “It was about Jesus and my mommy at the end of the day,” Doolittle said.

Even through the ups and downs of mainstream stardom, Doolittle’s faith and lifelong principles sustained and guided her. She shared these principles and her experiences to prove that no matter how big the obstacle, individuals can dream big and find both joy and success, especially if they look beyond themselves and invest in others and God.

“If you’re just coming into Belmont or leaving Belmont, really go after what’s in your heart. Don’t give up on the dreams that you have, no matter what kind of work you think it’s going to take,” Doolittle said. “Know your worth. Know the person that you are. Know who God created you to be because He created you to be an overcomer. He created you to be strong. He created you to attack anything in life and succeed at it.”

Doolittle ended her inspirational talk by taking questions from the audience and singing her rendition of Diana Ross’s “Home.”

Belmont Alumnae Awarded Fulbright, TAPIF Grants for Overseas Teaching

Recent graduates to serve in Ukraine, France

May 2013 Belmont University graduates Katie Godwin and Jill Barrett were recently awarded program grants for overseas teaching in Ukraine and France, respectively.

Godwin, an English and honors major and Russian minor from Huntsville, Ala., received an English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright grant to Ukraine to assist in teaching English in a university for the 2013-2014 academic year. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.

In addition to aiding with classroom lessons and activities, Godwin will be responsible for other English language-oriented projects, such as language labs or American culture seminars, for students and those in the community. In addition to receiving the Fulbright, Godwin has participated in the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (for Russian) in Kazan, Russia, volunteered as an English language instructor in Moscow with the Institute of Humanitarian Development and served as an English language teaching assistant in a bilingual primary school in Madrid, Spain.

Godwin said, “I applied for an ETA Fulbright grant because I am interested in pursuing a career in education research. I’m particularly interested in teaching abroad because participating in and observing foreign education systems will allow me to better understand the many methods and tools that can be used to approach the current issues facing our school systems. Furthermore, the Fulbright is an opportunity to promote cross-cultural understanding, which is an essential part of international education.”

JillBarrettJill Barrett, a  French/English double major, will be working with the Teaching Assistantship Program In France (TAPIF), a sister program to the Fulbright administered by the French Ministry of Education. A native of Franklin, Tenn., Barrett will be teaching English from late August through next May to middle and high schoolers in Excideuil, a small town in the south of France.

Barrett—who studied abroad in Angers, France during the spring semester of her sophomore year— said, “Basically, I get to serve as a sort of conversational guide and language facilitator. I have always had an affinity for the French culture, language and people… When I came home [from studying abroad in 2011], I knew that my time in France wasn’t quite over, and I started looking for ways to go back when I graduated. The TAPIF program was a great option, and thankfully, I was selected! In the long run, I’d love to get my master’s in French and teach it in some capacity. This experience will hopefully solidify my French language skills, while also giving me a little bit of insight into the culture and lifestyle.”

Recent Graduate Selected for Cambridge Fellowship, Peace Corps

Heart of Belmont award winner Rami Nofal lives out University mission to ‘engage and transform world’ with new appointments

Rami Nofal

Rami Nofal is pictured participating earlier this summer in the “If I Had a Hammer” event.

Belmont University alumnus Rami Nofal (’13) was recently selected for two distinguished, international opportunities: a fellowship at prestigious Cambridge University and a stint in Ghana serving with the Peace Corps.

Nofal—who graduated in May earning degrees in international business (marketing and Arabic), finance and economics with a minor in political science—won one of Belmont University’s highest honors in April when he was selected to receive the John Williams Heart of Belmont award.  The Heart of Belmont award recognizes a student who demonstrates commitment to service, initiative, innovation, persistence, advocacy, and maturity, among other qualities. He also was actively involved with the two-time National Champion and 2012 World Cup-winning Enactus team.

A 2009 graduate of Nashville’s Overton High School, Nofal will next participate Aug. 18-30 in the Ariane de Rothschild Fellowship at Cambridge University in England. This Fellowship is the premier gold standard of social entrepreneurship intersected with cross-cultural exchange for global minded change agents. Nofal’s acceptance letter noted, “Your selection as a Fellow reflects the careful judgment of prominent scholars that you meet the Fellowship’s rigorous criteria for admission, emphasizing both excellence in the quality of your civic engagement and your serious contribution to social enterprise.”


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