MSC Foundation Establishes Scholarship
In Memory of Dr. Gwen Sell Sorrell
By Sheron Smith
Perhaps the best thing about Dr. Gwen Sell Sorrell's two big
passions in life was how they strengthened each other: her
love for teaching fed her desire to travel the world, while the
thrill of travel made her an even better teacher.
Dr. Gwen Sell Sorrell and her husband, Dr. Larry Mobley,
sit in a courtyard during a visit to France.
"Although she agreed with John Keats that through books we
travel 'in the land of gold,' she also insisted that our imaginary
travels are riches when read within the context of real journeys,"
said Sorrell's husband, Dr. Larry Mobley.
A longtime English professor at Macon State College, Sorrell
died in January 2004 after an 18 - month battle with cancer.
She was one of the College's most popular instructors, teaching
various courses in literature, ethics and gender studies, and earned
a reputation for generating enthusiasm for learning among her
students. The glowing evaluations many wrote about Sorrell
helped her win Macon State's Outstanding Teaching Award in 2002.
In addition to her work in the classroom, Sorrell was the
founding director of the Macon State College Study Abroad Program.
She twice taught literature at a University System of Georgia summer
study abroad program in London, and she also visited Russia and
Japan on faculty development trips. On her own, she traveled
extensively in England, France, Italy, Germany and Scotland.
Sorrell especially loved London and would spend hours each day of a
trip exploring that city's ubiquitous museums and bookstores.
"Gwen saw travel as a portal through which she could study the
history and culture of other places," said Mobley, also an English
professor at Macon State. "It was important to her to
encourage students to leave their provincial world and experience
the life - changing adventures of travel." In Sorrell's
memory, her family has established a scholarship through the Macon
State College Foundation that will merge her twin passions by giving
more students an opportunity to study while traveling abroad.
Mobley, along with Sorrell's children, Scott Sell and Mary Lee Sell
Watts, have pledged $20,000 to endow the Gwendolyn Sell Sorrell
Study Abroad Scholarship. As an endowed award, the scholarship
will be given annually to qualified Macon State students.
"The Foundation is honored to add this scholarship the resources
we offer our students," said Sue B. Chipman, the foundation's
executive director. "Gwen always worked closely with us to
help students apply for scholarships they could use toward study
abroad. I know her efforts literally opened a world of
opportunity for them, so a study abroad scholarship in her memory is
a fitting tribute."
Among the many Macon State students Sorrell encouraged to study
abroad was Ashley Walker, now a senior communications major.
Because of Sorrell's influence, Walker spent the summer of 2002
studying in Italy.
"She was my professor in gender studies, and her excitement
about learning and discussing ideas in the classroom made me
enthusiastic about college," Walker said. "She was eager to
teach me all that she knew, and that included teaching me to
experience the world through travel. And she was right.
Going to Italy was the best experience of my life."
Walker is going on another study abroad trip this summer, this
time to Spain, and she aspires to a career that will allow her to
travel to or live in other countries.
She thinks Sorrell would be pleased.
"Gwen was an incredible teacher and mentor," Walker said.
"I'm thankful we were friends."
Donations to the Gwendolyn Sell Sorrell Study Abroad
Scholarship fund may be made to the Macon State College Foundation,
100 College Station Drive, Macon, Ga., 31206 - 5145. Call
(478) 471 - 2732 or email
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