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Aug. 17, 2012
Northwest Missouri State University alumna Carolyn Houts has always had a passion for teaching and music and a sturdy faith in God. Now, after that passion led her on a life-changing music mission to Africa, Houts hopes her monetary gift will enable international students to receive the education they need to make a difference in their home countries.
Through the Northwest Foundation, Houts recently established The Carolyn Houts International Student Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to international students attending Northwest, with first preference given to students from Africa. The scholarship will be awarded to a student who exemplifies positive contributions to Northwest, through campus involvement, solid academic performance and leadership.
The scholarship, which is the first of its kind at Northwest, will be awarded upon Houts’ death. However, donors interested in adding to the scholarship fund may contribute at any time.
“I hope the students who receive this scholarship will get a good education, and they will return to be leaders in their country,” Houts said. “One of the problems is when they come to America, they don’t go back. I’ve seen promising young people come over here and they don’t go back to contribute to their society, and it’s needed.”
A 1964 Northwest graduate, Houts grew up in northwest Missouri and attended Northwest to major in music education. As a student, she was involved in several music and Christian organizations, including the Baptist Student Union where she was a pianist for the choir, the student branch of the Music Educators National Conference, the Student Christian Association and Tower Choir.
After graduating from Northwest, Houts went on to receive her master’s in music education and taught for several years before attending the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, where she earned her master’s of religious education and master’s of church music.
Upon leaving the seminary, Houts accepted an opportunity to go to Ghana in western Africa, through the Foreign Mission Board. That opportunity became a 35-year career for Houts.
“I felt God calling me to overseas service, and I first had those impressions when I was in school at Northwest,” Houts said. “So I taught school, gained experiences and reached a point where I was willing to go.”
Her first assignment in Ghana was to study the language of Twi, the county’s principal native language. After becoming fluent, she edited a Twi hymnal, and more recently she worked with interpreters to help church members make scripture songs in seven other African languages.
In 2006, Houts worked with a committee to develop a diploma in church music program through Ghana Baptist University. She led the choir, gave music lessons and taught classes.
Houts also enlisted the help of her former band director and mentor at Northwest, Ward Rounds, who maintained an instrument repair shop at his home. During her return trips to the United States, Houts often brought donated instruments for Rounds to repair and then took the refurbished instruments back to Ghana. Houts also is a contributor to the Ward Rounds Memorial Instrumental Music and encourages others to donate to that scholarship fund, which benefits instrumental music education majors.
Although Houts returned to the United States from time to time to speak at churches about her experiences, she returned to Missouri as a full-time resident in July 2010 and now lives in Grant City in northwest Missouri.
In addition to her scholarship gift, Houts recently joined Friends of International Students, a community-based organization that is affiliated with Northwest and pairs University students from outside the United States with local families and individuals who offer information, assistance, hospitality and home-cooked meals.
“I am very pleased to know there is local support for international students at Northwest Missouri State University,” said Dr. Jeffrey Foot, director of international affairs at Northwest. “International students bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Northwest and Maryville. All people can benefit from their insight and the opportunity to work and study with gifted individuals from around the globe. That Ms. Houts has stepped up to encourage students to come here is needed and so vital to all of our students’ success.”
For more information about The Carolyn Houts International Student Scholarship or ways to contribute toward other scholarships benefiting Northwest students, contact the Northwest Foundation at 660.562.1248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Hornickel, Media Relations Specialist
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Northwest Missouri State University
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