How Akanee Angel is Paying Generosity Forward

photo of Akanee Angel smiling
College of Sciences & Mathematics

How Akanee Angel is Paying Generosity Forward

March 13, 2024 | by Nolan Galbreath

Belmont senior Akanee Angel found herself on campus in 2020 patiently waiting to interview for Belmont’s most competitive scholarship, the Archer Presidential Scholarship. She knew the scholarship would afford her four years at Belmont as well as a study abroad trip without she or her family worrying about the financial aspect of her university education. 

The day of the interview consisted of a complimentary breakfast, a welcoming visit from the Belmont admissions team in an effort to calm her nerves and finally the interview itself. Angel was the first interview of the day and was ushered into a room with Belmont Board of Trust member James Archer, his wife Lois Archer, former Belmont president Bob Fisher and his wife Judy. The group discussed where Angel wanted to study abroad, her nonprofit work in high school and her academic aspirations. 

Then, a moment of laughter and levity.

An AP US History project Angel worked on in high school came up and any pressure in the room evaporated. 

“I told them we had to rewrite the words to ‘We Didn't Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel, and then they asked me to sing them the song,” Angel recounted with a smile. “The last part of the song was, ‘finally the big event, Trump became a president.’ It ended up being so low pressure and such a cool opportunity — they just made it a really good conversation.”akanee-thumbnail.jpg

Not long after, Angel received a phone call informing her that she had been awarded the Archer Presidential Scholarship, a call that officially cemented Angel’s decision to attend Belmont. 

“I was in my living room when I got the call and I was so excited,” Angel said. “I felt so much peace with the idea of Belmont as a school, especially when considering the people that I had met from Belmont up to that point. I knew that it was the right decision. Immediately afterwards came the idea that I wouldn't have to pay for college either. So much weight was lifted from my family’s shoulders.” 

Angel knew she wanted to work in healthcare when enrolling at Belmont because she always liked the idea of helping people. When meeting with her pre-health advisor at the time, Dr. Nick Ragsdale, he encouraged her to consider becoming a doctor because she had the personality that would align well with the job. Angel quickly began volunteering at Siloam Health and Interfaith Dental, discovering a love for medicine in doing so.

Angel elected to major in biology and minor in chemistry at Belmont, as well as participate in the Honors College. This way, she would be able to meet all the prerequisites for medical school which she plans to apply for after her graduation this upcoming May. 

The Archer Presidential Scholarship has presented Angel with two key opportunities outside of the classroom that she otherwise may have never received while at Belmont — to study abroad and pursue her passion of medicine to benefit others rather than for the compensation. 

As a four-year-old, Angel decided to be an artist when she grew up. While her artistic prowess took on a hobby role rather than a professional one as she grew older, her desire to visit the art she read about as a child never waned. While studying abroad in Grantham, England the spring semester of her sophomore year, she and a group of friends traveled to Italy where they explored the country over their Spring Break, eventually making their way to her dream destination. 

3n4a3970.jpg“I finally got to see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, which I had been wanting to see for years, among other things like the Statue of David in Florence and the School of Athens by Raphael,” she said. “So many wonders that I didn’t think I would be able to see this early in life. I checked so many boxes on my bucket list thanks to the opportunity to study abroad, and I met a group of five people there that I traveled with everywhere who are still my very best friends today.” 

Back in Nashville, Angel currently works as a patient technician in the general surgery department at Ascension St. Thomas Hospital, helping patients with any personal needs they may have such as eating, drinking or walking. Her favorite part of the job is getting to know her patients on an individual level. untitled-design-3.jpg

“I get to spend uninterrupted periods of time with them and ask questions about their lives. They have lots of stories to tell, especially my elderly patients,” she said. “I love listening to them and hearing what wisdom they have for young people.” 

Angel credits a significant portion of her academic and career development to Belmont’s small class sizes, hands-on research opportunities, the availability of Belmont’s faculty and staff to students and finally to Belmont donors whose generosity funded her scholarship and turned her dreams into reality. 

“I would really like to thank the Belmont donors and tell them that, because they have taken away the financial burden of college from me and my family, I get to pursue a career that I am passionate about while I’m still in college. Not only are they investing in me, but they’re also touching the lives of the hundreds of patients I’ve been able to work with so far. It’s a very special feeling to be able to do this job for the patients and not for the constant need for money. They are also investing in the Belmont community through my roles as a Towering Traditions leader and formerly as a FitRec employee leading people to accomplish their health goals. It’s such a blessing to be able to enjoy what I do.” 

Upon graduating in May of 2024, Angel will begin applying to medical schools for the 2025 academic year. In the meantime, she will continue to work at Ascension St. Thomas where she is training to be a medical assistant. This horizontal transfer creates the opportunity for her to work in a clinic, another step towards her ultimate goal of being a family medicine doctor.