Published on September 11, 2018 by Sara Roman  
2018 Learning for Life Recipients

Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education honored 14 distinguished alumni at its annual Learning for Life awards dinner August 21. The honorees were selected based on their commitment to impact their communities and our world for Christ. 

“Learning for Life honorees are courageous, yet sensitive; collaborative, yet listen; respect differences, yet celebrate the individual. They are responsible, trustworthy, problem-solvers, creative designers and trailblazers,” said school of education interim dean Bonnie Lee Rabe. “The 2018 recipients have exemplified a commitment to enhance their knowledge and develop the skills needed to reach out to others and lead by example. They embody what it means to be an Orlean Beeson School of Education graduate.”

The 2018 Learning for Life recipients have careers that span a multitude of subject fields. The 2018 honorees are severing their communities as K-12 teachers, principals, ministry leaders, occupational therapists, business leaders and volunteers. Their career paths are unique, but all honorees are similar in the way that they have identified their calling and invested their talents to enrich their communities and serve the Kingdom.

The Learning for Life award was established in 2015 in celebration of Orlean Beeson School of Education’s 100th anniversary. The award honors outstanding education alumni that have made a significant impact in the lives of others. The event also provides financial support through tribute gifts for the school to continue providing opportunities for future educators to pursue their calling. 

Scholarship recipient Jacklyn Keller shared her Samford story with attendees during the dinner. Keller is a recent graduate of the education school’s undergraduate ESEC program and is a current candidate in the school master’s in special education program. She is also a preschool teacher for special needs students in Cullman, AL.  She shared with attendees that her Samford experience would not have been possible without the additional scholarship she received; she also shared that gifts in support of scholarships have a broader influence than impacting one student’s life. 

“Your scholarship support has not just impacted my education; it has impacted the education of thousands of students and families through the educators Orlean Beeson School of Education sends out each year,” said Keller. “Your gift of scholarship is truly one that continues to give more and more each year.”

The 2018 honorees were celebrated and presented with a certificate and distinguished medal of honor. Former Learning for Life recipient Kathy Acton joined Rabe for the presentation of the awards. Following the presentation, former Learning for Life recipient Lewis Brooks commemorated the many accomplishments of the 2018 recipients and gave them a word of encouragement to continue their good works. Michael Hardin, provost and vice president of Samford University, provided the Invocation and Monique Witherspoon, assistant dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education provided the closing prayer.

2018 Learning for Life honorees:
Meghan Allen ‘09
Chelsea Byrd ’11, ‘17
Jennifer Carter ‘96
Lauren Dunnam ’09, ‘11
Justin Hefner ’14, ’16, ‘18
Matthew Kiser ‘16
Jennifer Jackson ‘90
Maggie Lawrence ‘10
Loretta Rowan ’71, ‘91
Jeremy Sandefur ‘07
Marla Vaughn ’07, ‘09
Jewel Littleton-Williams ’05, ‘10
Bet Wright ‘94
Sarah Young ‘94

Orlean Beeson School of Education hosts the Learning for Life awards annually. To learn more or nominate someone you know for the 2019 awards, visit


About Samford University – Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report  ranks Samford 4th among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,619 students from 44 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.