Published on March 12, 2014 by Chandra Splond  

An international opera star, an internationally recognized missions leader, a federal judge and a Civil Rights movement veteran are just some of the Samford University alumnae being featured in March as "Women of Achievement."

Elizabeth Futral has sung with the Metropolitan Opera in New York and with opera companies around the world. She was Samford's alumna of the year in 2002.

Wanda Seay Lee leads Woman's Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to having served as a missionary herself, she is a recognized missions leader around the world.

Karon Owen Bowdre is chief judge for the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. She received both her undergraduate and law degrees from Samford and was alumna of the year in 2003.

Carolyn Maull McKinstry grew up in Birmingham during the height of the Civil Rights movement and has a compelling story. She earned a master's degree from Beeson Divinity School and received an honorary doctorate from Samford in 2013.

The recognition, which features a different individual each day, is part of the university's centennial celebration of coeducation at Samford and coincides with Women's Month.


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.