Dorothy Wells ′82

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Academic Major at Rhodes: Music – Vocal Performance

Rhodes Graduation Year: 1982

Post-Graduate Information: Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (University of Memphis), Memphis Theological Seminary

Current Home: Memphis, Tennessee

Current Profession: A successful attorney for the last 17 years, Dorothy recently set off in a new direction and is pursuing a call to ordained ministry.


Tell me about this career transition that you are going through.

I had really been feeling a call to ordained ministry. I decided I would pursue that to see where it might lead and I actually entered the formal ordination process in the Episcopal Church. I’ll finish seminary in December, and take ordination exams in January. So I’m getting close now to the end of that part of this journey. We will see what happens after that, but God-willing I will be ordained sometime in 2012.


Was there a professor at Rhodes who had a significant influence on you?

Wow, there were a lot, but I’d have to put Tony Lee Garner at the top; he was one of the music professors at Rhodes while I was there. Tony had a tremendous expectation of his students. He spoke volumes to me about making music, but also about living life. One thing that I certainly learned being around him was that God was in music. And I guess one of the other things I learned was that music embodies the whole of our being. He made a profound influence on so many people.


Did he have some influence as far as later down the line you deciding to enter seminary school?

You know, in a way I think he did. He was one of those people who, without teaching you to listen to your heart, really taught you to listen to your heart. I felt a calling to ordained ministry for probably 10 years before I was actually able to say that out loud. Finally being able to hear that voice and to listen to that voice, and then accept that this is what I am supposed to do has been wonderful. Professor Garner was a remarkable, remarkable professor.


How has your Rhodes education carried over into your life today?

Rhodes inspired a passion for learning that I really didn’t appreciate for a while. I’m one of those people who has embraced the notion of being a lifelong learner and I think I got that notion at Rhodes. I suddenly found myself taking classes and being intrigued by things that I wouldn’t have imagined I would have been intrigued by. I took political science and I thought at that point, I was going to end up in law school. I loved political science and I thought, “Wow, I had no idea this is what it was all about.”


In what ways do you support Rhodes now?

I am on the Alumni Executive Board and I am a perpetual giver. I have been involved in some of the women’s network events at Rhodes through the years. I have also been on the Margaret Hyde Council board in the past. I have been connected a lot and there has been nothing more fulfilling. I mentored a student there and it was just the most remarkable experience for me to think, “Wow, I got this from this school and now I have the opportunity to give back in a meaningful way.” It’s a great school. I believe wholeheartedly in everything the school does.