Spencer and Meredith Turner are graduates of Belmont’s class of 2015. They began giving to Belmont soon after their graduation and have continued giving ever since. They recently established the Spencer ’15 and Meredith ’15 Turner Endowed Scholarship to support student-athletes at Belmont and are participating in the new Athletics Facility by naming the Men’s Basketball Team Locker Room. Spencer and Meredith give generously in response to their faith, and they choose to give to Belmont because they believe in the mission, the people and care extended by faculty and staff to students and the broader community.
What about your Belmont experience inspired you to give?
M: When I think of Belmont, I know we are part of a bigger family. People are warm and inviting, whether they be coaches, teammates, class peers, or supporters of Belmont. As students, we could walk anywhere on campus and knew people cared about us as individuals. When they asked, “How are you?” they really wanted to know. As an alumna, I still have that experience walking on campus.
The Betty Wiseman Mission Fund was particularly important to me. My experience on mission with a group of nine student-athletes (including Spencer) was the most impactful experience at Belmont. That’s where Spencer and I met, and that trip changed our lives. I was motived to give to the Betty Wiseman Mission Fund because I was thankful for the opportunity and wanted to help make it possible for future students to participate in mission trips without financial burden. When we got married, we both shared that desire to give back generously. I am blessed to be married to a generous man.
When did you make your first gift to Belmont?
S: I knew the impact that donor support made in my life and the lives of my friends. As I prepared to graduate, I wondered…how special could it be to provide for others? Dr. Gonas encouraged me to remember Belmont after I graduated, and he helped me to get my first job after college with Merrill Lynch. With my first paycheck, I started giving monthly to Belmont’s Bruin Club based on the advice of Dr. Gonas.
Why are you supporting student-athletes specifically?
S: Meredith and I were both student-athletes. I received a scholarship during my Belmont education, and I recognize that many student-athletes do not have scholarship support. I observed other athletes balancing work, athletics and academics. Some people assume that all Division 1 athletes receive “full ride” scholarships. However, many programs don’t have the funding to provide scholarships to all of their athletes. Many student-athletes live out their dream and attend an amazing school but must work to afford their education. We want to help reduce that financial burden for students.
Belmont Athletics also played a significant role in our story. During our sophomore year at Belmont, Meredith and I were asked to go to Haiti as part of a Betty Wiseman Mission trip. In preparation for the trip, we met weekly to pray, discuss logistics and bond as friends and fellow missionaries. That was the first time Meredith and I interacted. Our mission trip group became best friends for the rest of college. By senior year, our relationship changed. We had a strong foundation to our friendship, rooted in faith. God’s faithfulness wove together our story before we knew. To this day, our relationship continues to be anchored in faith in Christ.
Between athletics and missions, my four years at Belmont was special, and anything we can do to give back is a blessing.
As a donor, what would you like to see for Belmont’s future?
S: Dr. Fisher has done a tremendous job. No one could have done a better job. Within athletics, both Mike Strickland and Scott Corley have built an incredible program and have made student-athletes’ dreams come true. In the future, we hope Belmont will continue to grow while maintaining its intimate, friendly campus. That is what we experienced (with 6,000 students at the time).
M: We walked on campus a few weeks ago, and seeing all new buildings, for student housing, athletics, and more is amazing. Belmont continues to provide for student needs, and we know the leaders and people of Belmont have the students’ best interest at heart.
Why would you encourage others to give to Belmont?
S: We give and we would encourage others to give. So many people who did not even attend Belmont give because they believe in the University’s mission. I want our alumni (student-athletes, in particular) to feel the same way about Belmont and to give back. Some University funding comes from tuition, but much comes through donations. By giving back to the University, you are helping to fund the education and resources that Belmont provides.
M: We are following examples like Larry Thrailkill, who are generous with money and time. He taught us the Lord has called us to be good stewards of our finances, which are ultimately His. This is one way to live out that calling on our lives.
If you were talking with current students about the importance of giving back, what would you tell them?
M: There are so many ways to give. You can give of money, energy and time, through a financial gift or through participation in Bible study.
I also recommend that you get to know alumni and donors who care about studentathletes to learn how to best help them. Larry Thrailkill, a Belmont trustee, and Danny Duvall, a former Belmont basketball student-athlete, used to host student-athlete dinners where they encouraged athletes to grow in their relationship with Lord and mature as young men. Our dream is to host student athlete dinners and talk about life in a similar way, thanks to their inspiration.
Lastly, we are most grateful for the opportunity for community. We encourage student-athletes to observe how Belmont is invested in fostering community, developing a positive mindset and uplifting others. Wise people are investing in you at Belmont.