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Our Alumni 

Our alumni can be found across the country and around the world. Many are active in music at the highest levels as performers, composers, educators, therapists and in the wider business of music. Below you will see examples of just a few of these distinguished alums. Read their bios and how their time at Jewell helped them get where they are now.  We believe that you will soon realize that a degree in music from William Jewell College can take you very far indeed.

Rear Admiral Diane E.H. Webber

A Missouri native, Diane Webber '81 graduated summa cum laude, with honors, with a bachelor's of science in music education. She also completed masters' degrees in management from the University of Redlands and in military studies from the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

In 1983 she began her career in the United States Navy as an Ensign Officer. Promoted to Rear Admiral in June 2009, she currently serves as the Director of Command Control Systems, North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo. NORAD – USNORTHCOM serves as the central collection and coordination facility for a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the commander and the leadership of Canada and the U.S. with an accurate picture of any aerospace threat. CHIPS, the Navy's Information Technology magazine, describes Webber and other Information Professional officers as "instrumental in delivering the communications services required to sustain both land and seabased operations for the thousands of deployed Sailors, Soldiers and Marines."

She is a recipient of the Naval Historical Center's Admiral Samuel E. Morison Supplemental Scholarship and has completed her doctoral coursework in International Relations at Catholic University. She holds certificates in Chief Information Officer and Information Assurance from Information Resource Management College at National Defense University and Information Operations from Naval Postgraduate School.

Webber's personal awards include the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and numerous unit and campaign awards.

What she says about her time at Jewell:
"I learned that Jewell has a faculty that will engage you — relentlessly — to ensure that you make the most of every opportunity. The community at Jewell will walk with you and lift you up or scoop you up off the floor if that's necessary. My four years at Jewell was my time to try things on for size, to practice, to fail, to grow . . . . with no real penalties.

I wanted to be a band director and was certain that I'd gotten the best music education possible. But when that didn't pan out and another opportunity emerged, I took it, because that's what I'd been doing for four years at Jewell. And the sudden shift in plans did not seem intimidating or insurmountable. My education turned out to be much less about music, and much more about learning to think, discovering who I was, putting my talents to good use, and taking opportunities as they come."

Danny Belcher
What Jewell means to is easy and difficult to sum up in a few words. The easiest words that come to mind are foundation, family, and finally, dream.

Everything I learned and experienced in my four years at Jewell has played out in an operatic career that has taken me throughout leading theatres in North America, Europe and Asia. When asked about my musical education, I always state William Jewell College first and foremost. It is everything at the beginning that shapes a young artist's talent, drive and determination. I chose William Jewell as MY school to begin honing my craft. Not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my music, the Music Department at William Jewell gave me the opportunities to find my direction. From small class sizes to high-quality studio work, to wonderful and varied ensemble experience, it was the right fit for me. I guess a good barometer for me was when I started graduate school, the FOUNDATION given me from William Jewell enabled me to test out of most classes. In addition, studying abroad in Jewell's overseas program ignited my love of travel and discovery. Needless to say, it has served me well in my career.

As a young artist/student, a supportive environment is essential. The right blend of encouragement and discipline is required for this career. Too many times, I see young artists in situations where they are basically swimming upstream on their own. Jewell was and has been my FAMILY. There is one major reason why my wife and I decided to base our lives here in Liberty 15 years after leaving. Easy, William Jewell. The relationships made here have informed and grounded my life.

And finally, Jewell gave me the permission to DREAM. In a conversation with my voice teacher twenty years ago, he asked me what I wanted to do with my life and my music. After a pause from me, he asked again. My answer was to be on stage. His brief response was, "Well, why don't you?" He was right. From that conversation, my journey truly began. I have had the distinct opportunity of working alongside many of the world's great artists, directors conductors and composers in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Berlin, London, San Francisco, Houston, Toronto and many more places. But, it all started with a dream. And a foundation. And a family.
Amy Smith 

Today I am a Board Certified Music Therapist and Certified Child Life Specialist in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. During my four years on “the hill” I explored several degrees without a clear vision of what I wanted to become; I knew I loved music but was not sure where it could take me. It was the professors, who took time to get to know me and who introduced me to Music Therapy, that set my career in motion. Sometimes the most wonderful things come from the most unexpected circumstances.

Attending William Jewell College happened unexpectedly for me, I had no idea that this unplanned turn would become a priceless journey.

Cindy Sheppard
Dr. Sheppard is currently in her eighth year as Director of Choirs and Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Olathe South High School, a 6A high school in Olathe, Kan. She has remained active as a chorister, having sung for several years with the Kansas City Symphony Chorus, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir, and most recently as a charter member of the Musica Vocale Chamber Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Arnold Epley. She recently completed a two-year term as State Choral Chair for the Kansas Music Educators Association, and also served for five years as Chair of the Olathe South Building Leadership Team, leading the school through a successful re-accreditation process in 2006. Prior to moving to Olathe, Dr. Sheppard was Director of Choral Activities at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas for 10 years, and Assistant Professor of Music at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas for four years.

What she says about her time at Jewell: 
 "William Jewell has impacted, and continues to impact, my life in ways that I can never adequately describe. Not only did I receive solid and thorough preparation in my field of study, but I was challenged to think, to create and to lead, as well as learn, in ways that few undergraduates have the opportunity. I was able to cultivate rich friendships that have continued on both a personal and professional level. Study abroad in Oxford during my junior year opened the boundaries of my world culturally and musically, and gave me the chance to hear music that I had studied in the venues for which they were written. Leadership roles in Chapel Choir, Concert Choir, Handbell Choir, and during Jewell's hosting of Solo & Ensemble contest each year helped me to 'learn by doing.' One of the most significant reflections of how these various influences came together to shape me as a musician occurred before I graduated. During my sophomore year, I joined with two friends - Bruce Sorrell and Christina Palacas Sweeting - in forming a chamber trio (piano, violin and cello). This association continued until we graduated and exposed us to the exciting world of chamber literature, discovering and selecting music, securing performance opportunities, and the discipline and camaraderie of making music together without benefit of an instructor to guide us. It truly encouraged us to draw upon all of the resources our William Jewell education had provided us." 

John W. Richmond
Dr. Richmond is a tenured Professor in the School of Music of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is serving in his second five-year term as the Director of the School of Music. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Richmond served as a Professor and in various administrative capacities in the School of Music at the University of South Florida, Tampa.

Dr. Richmond’s research focuses on arts education policy, legal issues in arts education, and the philosophy of music education, with foci on professional ethics in arts education and the intersections of aesthetic and religious knowing. He is published widely in such respected journals as the Journal of Research in Music Education, Research Perspectives in Music Education, Arts Education Policy Review (and its earlier incarnation – Design for Arts in Education), the International Journal of Music Education, the Journal of Aesthetic Education (Editorial Consultant, 1996-present), and the Choral Journal, as well as a number of research monographs, including On the Nature of the Musical Experience. He is a Founding Director of the Suncoast Music Education Forum, the founding Editor of the Florida Choral News, and served as the Conference Director for the 1994 World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME). Dr. Richmond edited of the Policy/Philosophy Research Section of the second edition of the New Handbook of Research in Music Teaching and Learning (Oxford University Press, 2002), and also wrote the chapter on “Law Research and Music Education.”

Dr. Richmond has appeared across North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia as a guest conductor, speaker, clinician, consultant and soloist.

What he says about his time at Jewell:
"I received a marvelous education at William Jewell College (Class of '77). The faculty cared deeply about each of us students, sought to make sure we took advantage of every opportunity and encouraged us to achieve to the highest possible standard (what else at the "Campus of Achievement?"). Jewell's emphasis on study-abroad opportunities provided a way for me to spend a semester at the Vienna International Music Center in Austria, a life-changing experience on which I have drawn time and again throughout my career. Finally, I met my wife of 32 years, Jill Watts Richmond, while at William Jewell. We married two weeks after our Commencement. Whenever I visit Kansas City, I find the time to visit the campus, marvel at the changes to the place and remember with gratitude my time there. Jill and I love William Jewell College and the many  faculty and friends that continue shape our lives to this day." 

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