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When Betty Wright was only 8 years old, teacher Jean Morley at Holmes Elementary School in Miami planted a seed of love for Barry University in her heart. The seed grew, and so did Wright, who became an internationally known rhythm-and-blues singer.
“I always refer to Mrs. Morley as my ‘mentor teacher,’” Wright said. “I wasn’t in her classroom, but she saw that I had talent. When she learned that Barry — it was a college at that time — was doing auditions for summer stock, she insisted that I audition, too. I remember her giving me a poem to learn. The poem was, ‘I Met God in the Morning.’ I won the audition and received a scholarship for the entire summer. The next year, my siblings were involved in the summer stock program at Barry. We thought we were something special, taking the bus to Barry every day.”
“When you plant a seed, you never know how it will grow,” Wright said.
Over the years, Wright’s relationships with Morley and Barry University have stayed strong. “I know what Barry stands for and what it continues to do for our community, as far as education and scholarships. During my travels as an entertainer, I have met people all over the world who have attended Barry.”
Wright, a Grammy-winning artist, said she didn’t think twice when asked to work on a celebration for the university’s 75th birthday. She said she wanted to make sure people understood just what 75 years as an educational icon in the community really means. She decided to put on a show that would reflect the seven-and-a-half decades the university has been in the community. The event would also showcase the music and fashions over 75 years.