Ryann Tewell had a tremendous work ethic. As a competitive gymnast, she was always striving for the perfect 10. She hustled as a student, too, graduating magna cum laude with a double major of economics and business administration and winning the Faculty Merit Award in Economics. She had a quick wit, and she loved to laugh. But perhaps her greatest gift of all was the gift of inclusiveness.
Her favorite quote was from the writer and poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Ryann made people feel they belonged and, in turn, she felt welcomed at Bellarmine, where she transferred in her sophomore year. “She was unsure it would be a fit, but it was a perfect fit,” said her father, Charlie Tewell. “She just fell in love with it.”
She also joined a family tradition. A Tewell has attended Bellarmine for 37 of the past 51 years. Fifteen of the 17 family members who attended earned a total of 18 degrees: 15 bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and one doctorate. Ryann’s father graduated in 1984 and then earned an MBA in 1992, and her mother, Melinda (Crider) Tewell, graduated in 1985. The most recent graduate was Ryann’s brother and best friend, Matthew ’14. “Bellarmine and the Tewell family just go together,” Charlie Tewell said.
After she graduated in 2012, Ryann landed a job as a financial analyst at Humana. In June 2014, she was walking to the office when she was struck in a crosswalk and killed. She was just 24.
The Tewells had already been considering making a gift to Bellarmine. Creating a scholarship in Ryann’s name that would welcome other transfer students to the school where she had thrived seemed fitting.
Recipients of the Ryann Tewell ’12 Endowed Scholarship will be women transferring to Bellarmine in their sophomore year, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Preference will be given to those who demonstrate financial need and/or whose parents attended Bellarmine University.
“You don’t want your child to be forgotten in any way,” Melinda Tewell said. “There’s almost an intrinsic need to have your child’s name associated with something that will endure. You also want that to have some real meaning and value. I do think this scholarship will help someone. There are a lot of Ryann Tewells out there who want to come back to Bellarmine, and we want someone who has had an experience similar to Ryann’s to receive this.”
Ryann “was the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” Charlie Tewell said. “I honestly think she is one who should be emulated—what she did, how she worked. I trust that the recipients of this scholarship exhibit those same qualities, and they will live and endure.”