Continuing their Belmont journey after graduation, Presidential Fellows Mary Brownlee, Libby Godo and Marcus Knight have been selected for the opportunity to learn from the highest office on campus.
Brownlee is the senior fellow in her second year, while Godo and Knight are on their first. The program is designed so that one fellow always returns for a second year, so that there is always one with experience.
This is the second year of President Jones’s Fellowship program, where selected fellows serve as ambassadors for the office of the president, while bringing their perspective as former students to campus initiatives.
“This program really is designed to teach you what higher education is and give you exposure to so many different departments, avenues and inner workings of higher education,” Godo said.
While she is interested in working in higher education, the skills learned in this program are transferable to any field.
“The program helps with developing professional soft skills,” Knight said. “It could be as simple as how to construct an email or how to set up a meeting.”
The program also provides the alumni with professional networking opportunities.
“Greg is such a big personality and has a network that goes far beyond Nashville - or honestly even the U.S.,” Brownlee said. “The people he brings to campus and the people that he introduces to you can connect you with people that are interested in what you have to offer.”
The Office of the President reaches out to faculty and staff for applicant recommendations and followed-up with leaders who were recommended within the student body.
However, the application is open on MyBelmont to all students.
The application contains a written portion, an aspiration essay and an in-person interview with a search committee, chaired by Rev. Susan Jones.
The Presidential Fellows were involved with events like the opening of the Jack C. Massey Center and the Hope Summit.
“I learned a lot about the Massey family, the building itself and Belmont’s history,” Godo said. “So that was a great introduction to this position.”
In addition to events, fellows also work with students in Jones’s course, “What's Your Why?
Students in the class hear from guest speakers throughout the semester and participate in exercises to discover their callings in life.
“Our role is to help on the student side of it, since there are 150 students in the class,” Brownlee said. “Greg and Susan can’t be the only ones interacting with all of them. We get to kind of come alongside and have students ask questions and be a student interface.”
Beyond the course, the fellows’ variety of involvement on campus often makes their schedules unique.
“A lot of what excites me about this position is the unknown,” Godo said. "We show up to work in the morning and really have no idea what the day brings.”
Similarly to what any first job after college might involve, this one also has its challenges.
“There's learning how to work with different people because no two people in a work setting work exactly the same,” Godo said. “There’re challenges with yourself, learning how to work with your colleagues and with people that you report to and just managing all of that."
The sheer number of opportunities this position provides has been overwhelming as well.
“There's so much good work being done on Belmont’s campus,” Knight said. "The extroverted person in me wants to have a hand in so many different things. But I think the challenge, at least for me personally, has been trying to prioritize what I want this year to be like for me.”
This fellowship allows former students to figure out what is next for them if they don’t already know or may change what they want to do.
“I joke about the Belmont slogan ‘From Here to Anywhere.’ For me it's like ‘from here back to here’ is kind of what happened,” Brownlee said.
The opportunity for the fellows to work for their alma mater gives them more experience as they transition from college students to young professionals.
“We have incredible mentors and incredible role models to look up to,” Godo said. “Being able to touch so many different aspects of higher education. It really is a benefit for me as somebody who wants to continue to do those kinds of work.”
This article was written by Zoe Spangler