Change Breeds Opportunity for Libby Hennen
June 20, 2022
Contact: Rhonda Jessup, Director of Public Relations
MOUNT OLIVE – University of Mount Olive MBA student Libby Hennen knows a thing or two about change. She is proof positive that if you open yourself up to change, it can be utilized to become better, more versatile, and open the door to new opportunities.
Growing up in Dayton, OH, Hennen had big sports aspirations. After all, at six foot one inch, she was a starter on the varsity basketball team at Springboro High School. “My height, which I have always loved, allowed me to capture rebounds and get them into the hands of our top scorers,” she recalled. “Going to college was very much contingent on my basketball skills.”
A debilitating injury to her ACL in the eleventh grade sidelined Hennen, dashed her dreams, and left her future in uncertainty. “I had surgery, but the doctor’s told me if I continued to play, I would tear my ACL again.”
Understandably, Hennen was devastated and depressed. A normally outgoing, type A personality, Hennen found herself very much isolated with lots of time to think and process. “I knew giving up my dreams of a college education could not be over as easy as that.”
Hennen, who comes from a family with solid-Christian values and principles, began to pray about her situation. God pointed her in the direction of another of her talents – music. “I have always grown up singing in church and in various musicals, but I had never given serious thought about using my God-given talent in a more productive way.”
After high school, Hennen enrolled at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Her first soprano vocal talents were honed and perfected as she performed with a variety of groups and ensembles including Lee University Chorale, Lee Jazz Ensemble, and Lee Singers. Hennen was exuberant to have found a niche for her musical abilities and she began to formalize a new dream for herself. “I set my sights on Disney,” she recalls. “Everything I did was used as a training platform to land a spot on the a cappella group Voices of Liberty.”
After graduating with a degree in public relations and music from Lee University in December of 2019, Hennen packed her bags and headed to Orlando, FL. Then COVID struck and Disney shut down. “This was the beginning of the pandemic and we literally thought we would go home and be back in two weeks,” Hennen recalled. “I packed a few minimal items, left my apartment, and flew back to my parents’ home for, what I thought would be, a short visit.” Little did she know the impact COVID would have on the world. “Six months later I was still living at home, still paying rent for my apartment in Florida, and still asking myself, ‘what next.’”
An audition that Hennen had six months prior with Lester Rector, Director of the University of Mount Olive’s (UMO) a cappella group, Carolina Sound, suddenly came to mind. “I felt that God was once again pointing me in a new direction so, I picked up the phone and called Lester,” she said. “Ironically he told me that they were in need of a first soprano and thought I would be a great fit for the group.”
Hennen was offered a full scholarship to pursue her Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with UMO and sing with Carolina Sound. “It was a win-win,” she said.
Along with her studies, performing with Carolina Sound has been a big commitment of time and energy. “It is high pressure,” she observed. “We rehearse as a group about nine hours a week, have individual practices, and travel for concerts between six and nine times per month.”
Hennen discovered that being in an a cappella group requires a different kind of stamina than any other type of musical performance. “We are the music, the medley, the introduction, the harmony, and the instruments all wrapped up in one,” she noted. “It takes a great deal of practice, patience, and perseverance. While I have thoroughly loved my time with Carolina Sound, it has allowed me to scratch an itch, and I now know that performing at Disney is no longer a priority for me.”
While at UMO, Hennen has excelled in her online studies. “I fell in love with the MBA program,” she admits. “I found myself looking forward to the daily lectures, projects, and online discussion boards. I began to see a new future for myself.”
Set to complete her MBA in August, Hennen plans to transition to the corporate world in either marketing or supply chain management. “I can’t predict where God will place me next, but I know He is ever present in my life guiding me to new opportunities and leading me to a fulfilled life.”
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.