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Gold Standard

Posted by on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 in Fall 2013, Fall 2013, Peabody People.

Betsy Wills, BA’89, MEd’02

Betsy Wills at her Nashville home. (Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt)

Finding one’s passion is the key to a fulfilling life, says Betsy Wills, and helping young people tap into their passions has become one of hers. Inviting Peabody professional students into her home to share their life’s experiences is just one way she is doing this.

“It’s been rewarding for me to spend time with students and share Peabody’s impact on my career and my life,” Wills said.

At a recent dinner she hosted for 10 Peabody master’s students, Wills explained how she refocused her career at 33 by choosing Peabody’s master’s program in human resource development instead of going to business school.

“I underwent some intense assessments of my abilities and learned that idea generation and motivating others were a huge part of my natural skill set,” she said. “Peabody was the best place for me, and the program prepared me for my current business venture.”

The evening was part of a series of GOLD (Graduates Of The Last Decade) Dinners, a program created by Associate Dean for Professional Education Sharon Shields as a way to connect professional students to outstanding Peabody alumni living in Nashville.

Ten Peabody professional students gathered for a GOLD Dinner at the home of Betsy Wills. Back row (from left): Betsega Bekele, Matt Dolson and Jeffrey Gayhart; middle row: Peabody Associate Dean for Professional Education Sharon Shields, Wills, Amy Venit, Carlee Smith and Stephanie Morrison; front row: Mengting Ren, Katie Conwell, Cassaundra Vergel and Alex Garza. (Photo by Susan Adcock)

“The dinners provide an opportunity for our students to learn how a Peabody degree can make a difference and what type of career opportunities it can provide,” Shields said. “In addition, our alumni have found this a valuable way to build friendships and mentor our students.”

Cassaundra Vergel, a second year master’s student focusing on leadership and organizational performance, came away from the evening energized by the experience and with an internship at Wills’ new business venture, YouScience, which is set to launch later this year.

“YouScience works with a student’s natural abilities and 21st century skills, and those are both topics I have been studying—so it was the perfect fit,” Vergel said. “The dinner was a great opportunity to get to know people beyond the classroom, and I was so fortunate to be able to fulfill my practicum requirement with this internship.”

Wills is looking forward to hosting another GOLD Dinner.

“The energy and enthusiasm of the group reminded me of why Peabody is so outstanding,” Wills said. “All of these students are so dedicated—as an alumna, working with such talent is a privilege.”

If you live in the Nashville area, received your master’s degree from Peabody in the last 10 years, and would like to host a GOLD Dinner party, contact Emma Smyth at or 936-5510.


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