Distinguished Alumnus Award
Distinguished Alumna Award...............Becca Stevens, C’85
The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in their vocation and who have demonstrated concern for and service to their community. Furthermore, the award seeks to recognize individuals who have shown dedication to and support of the University and whose position of stature and importance has brought favorable attention and recognition to the University.
BECCA STEVENS, C’85, is an Episcopal priest, social entrepreneur, speaker and author of five books for whom ministry and writing are a practical endeavor. As chaplain of St. Augustine’s at Vanderbilt University, and founder and executive director of Magdalene, a residential community for women who have survived lives of violence, prostitution and addiction, and its non-profit business, Thistle Farms, Becca maintains a commitment to the truth that love is the most powerful force for change in the world.
Magdalene was founded by Stevens in 1997. With funds from individual gifts and private grants, it offers "a sanctuary for the women where they can live for two years without having to pay." In 2001 Becca founded Thistle Farms, a subsidiary of Magdalene, a social enterprise in which the women make and sell natural bath and body products. All proceeds directly support the community. Magdalene, which now sustains five houses, has inspired similar programs in several American cities, and has helped women in Rwanda start a business.
Stevens can trace part of the inspiration for her ministry to her mother, Anne Stevens. Widowed when Becca’s father, himself an Episcopal priest, was killed by a drunk driver, Mrs. Stevens raised five children as a single mother. After Sewanee, Becca attended Vanderbilt Divinity School, where she met and married Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Marcus Hummon. Ordained in 1991, she gave birth to their first child two weeks after becoming a priest. As chaplain of St. Augustine’s since 1995, she now serves a congregation of 400 students, faculty and community members. With the support of St. Augustine’s, Becca has been able to open the Anne Stevens School in Ecuador, a nursing program for an AIDS hospice in Botswana, and a center for contemplative justice in Nashville.
Becca’s published-writing career began when Abingdon Press approached her about doing a Bible study for its Sisters series resulting in her first book, Finding Balance. Her meditations became Sanctuary: Unexpected Places Where God Found Me, one of Christianity Today’s Top 5 Spiritual Books of 2005. Hither & Yon and Find Your Way Home, a collaborative effort with the women of Magdalene, followed. Her latest publication is Funeral for a Stranger.
To date, Becca has raised over $12 million and gained nationwide press coverage for the organizations she supports. She has won awards from the Frist Foundation and the Academy of Women in Achievement. Becca was named "Nashvillian of the Year" by the Nashville Scene and also selected as "Tennessean of the Year" by The Tennessean.
At Sewanee, Becca graduated cum laude with a B.A. degree in Mathematics. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the president of the Order of Gownsmen, and was selected as the Homecoming Queen in 1984. She is also the first recipient of Sewanee’s School of Theology DuBose Award for Service. Becca lives in Nashville with her husband, and their three sons, Levi, Caney, and Moses.