Young alumna establishes scholarship in name of Blackwell

Blackwell ScholarshipRachel Mercer, a 2011 Kennesaw State University graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration in management along with a minor in music, established the Dr. Leslie J. Blackwell Annual Scholarship in Choral Music after a longtime KSU faculty member in early May.

Mercer signed paperwork to start the scholarship in the name of Blackwell, who has been at Kennesaw State since 1998, on May 9 in the University’s Joe Mack Wilson Building on the Kennesaw campus. Among those attending the signing were Mercer, Blackwell and Dr. Patty Poulter, dean of KSU’s College of the Arts.

The $2,000 scholarship is awarded to one Kennesaw State student each semester, starting this fall. Full-time students pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Music Education with a concentration on choral music education are eligible.  

“I was fortunate enough to start singing with the KSU Chamber Singers during my senior year of high school, as a part of the Joint Enrollment Honors Program at KSU,” Mercer wrote in the legacy statement associated with her scholarship. “I was blessed to continue singing with this group for five years. The time I spent singing with the KSU Chamber Singers under the baton of Dr. Leslie J. Blackwell was the most enjoyable and memorable part of my collegiate career. I was also lucky enough to work as Leslie’s student assistant for 2 ½ years, where I learned many skills I took into the workplace beyond just music.”

Blackwell is the director of choral activities and a professor of music and music education at Kennesaw State. She has directed choral activities since her arrival at KSU. Besides conducting the University’s Chamber Singers and Men’s Ensemble, Blackwell teaches advanced choral conducting and literature.

Mercer currently serves as an operations manager with Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since earning her degree, the Marietta, Georgia, native has also held leadership positions with Pier 1 Imports, Target Corporation and Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc.

Also included in her legacy statement, Mercer wrote that she named her scholarship for Blackwell “because her commitment to KSU and achieving excellence in everything she does is unrivaled.” Mercer added, “Leslie was by far the most influential educator I studied under during my time at Kennesaw State.”


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