In honor of Dr. Fannie Hewlett, Belmont’s first African American graduate, the University created the inaugural Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award and bestowed it upon an undergraduate and graduate student at Wednesday’s annual Scholarship and Awards Day. The award celebrates racial and ethnic diversity by recognizing student courage, leadership and a contribution to a culture of inclusion at Belmont. Its creation is one of the many initiatives from the University’s Welcome Home Team, a committee of faculty, staff and students that explores opportunities and plans strategies to expand racial and ethnic diversity on campus.
Dr. Hewlett grew up in Bay Minette, Alabama, and decided to come to Belmont College, some 420 miles away from her home, after finding a brochure for the school in her mailbox. Though she hadn’t visited the College and didn’t know where Nashville was, she arranged for transportation and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.
After earning her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and English from Belmont in 1970, Hewlett went on to earn her Master of Arts in Clinical and School Psychology from Fisk University in 1975 and her Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1990. Most recently, Hewlett served as the interim president at Chattanooga State Community College.
Chair of the Welcome Home Team, Vice President and Chief of Staff Dr. Susan West said the University was honored to recognize Dr. Hewlett through the creation of this award. “The Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award celebrates Dr. Hewlett by honoring students who have followed in her footsteps to make powerful change on our campus. It is our privilege to remember the legacy she left at Belmont for many years to come.”
Dr. Hewlett returned to campus in October 2015 for the Welcome Home Team’s inaugural Diversity Week, a week created to celebrate the University’s diversity and inclusivity efforts. While on campus, Hewlett gave a presentation to faculty, staff and students and said, “The people I have met here are the people who have helped me to become what I have become today. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
The Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award will continue to be awarded during the University’s Scholarship and Awards Day each year. For West, the creation of this award is a testament to the great things transpiring on Belmont’s campus. “It means we’re acknowledging our past and taking important steps in the areas of racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion. It further recognizes the essential conversations that are happening in our boardrooms, classrooms and dorm rooms, and Welcome Home Team is honored to assist in facilitating those conversations.”
This year’s Dr. Fannie Hewlett Graduate recipient was Tetchi Assamoi, College of Pharmacy. A student leader within her college, Assamoi is also involved in the community as she works with Meharry Medical College to introduce health care careers to high school students. When West presented Assamoi with the award she quoted her nominator saying, “Ms. Assamoi is not only an outstanding student within the College of Pharmacy, but also a caring and giving human being. She has made choices of the types of organizations in which she is affiliated, often choosing organizations that allow her to reach out to others, especially minority populations to get them excited and engaged with professions within the health care field.”
The 2016 undergraduate recipient was Kristoff Hart, Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business. Hart has served as a resident assistant, basketball manager, Bruin Recruiter and Tour Guide, among other things across campus, and West said his impact on the Belmont community has been immeasurable. Hart’s nominator quoted him as saying, “I treat everyone the same, from president to executive to student to child. My whole life has been about respect of others and equal treatment, regardless of color, creed, religion and I think that speaks volumes to my need for inclusion.”