January 5, 2021

Alumni spotlight: Rayfield ensures current students have same support she did 

Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield’s life has taken her many places in the United States and abroad since she graduated from Montevallo in 1962. But regardless of where she has lived and worked, UM has never been far from her mind.  

Rayfield, the recipient of the 2020 Mary Lou Elder Williams Alumna Loyalty Award during Founders’ Day, arrived at the University for her freshman year in 1959. After receiving a scholarship to UM, Rayfield earned her undergraduate degree from the University with a major in history and a minor in biology. She then achieved both her master’s degree and doctorate in history at Vanderbilt University – all while on scholarship.  

After college, she conducted research in Bogota, Columbia, for a few years before going on to teach Latin American history at Illinois State University for more than 30 years and serving as the ISU archivist for 10 years.  

After retiring from teaching in 2010, she moved to Augusta, Georgia, to become a monastic solitary with the Order of Saint Helena Episcopal religious order.  

She credits the caring UM faculty who went above and beyond to help her reach her potential, and said the same passion is still evident among the University’s current faculty 

“I really enjoyed my time at Montevallo. It so exceeded any ambition that I had for college, and it was just wonderful,” Rayfield said. “I learned a lot not only content-wise, but also how to be a good person.” 

Her experiences at Montevallo cultivated her deep love of learning and served as her motivation for giving back to UM. This generosity, paired with her decades of helping those around her, was touted by members of the UMNAA as they selected her for the Alumna Loyalty Award at the University’s 2020 Founders’ Day in October.  

Rayfield has been a major donor to the University for decades, helping projects such as University of Montevallo on Main, the Center for the Arts and the M.A.D.E. (Minorities Achieving Dreams of Excellence) program become a reality.  

When the University’s students were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, Rayfield generously donated to the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund to help students cover urgent, unforeseen financial hardships caused by the pandemic’s effects.  

Rayfield is actively involved in supporting the University’s undergraduate research program, and regularly visits campus to meet with students and faculty and discuss their research goals and findings.  

Most recently, she has been passionate about supporting the M.A.D.E. program, which was established at UM in 2019 to assist incoming minority students with the transition into college and to offer them support while they are here.  

Rayfield said scholarships allowed her to complete her college education and helped her to lead a successful and fulfilling professional career. She is now committed to ensuring future generations of students have the same opportunities.  

“The University of Montevallo has been so important to my life, and I am so grateful for everything UM has done for me,” Rayfield said. “The intellectual and personal foundation I received at Montevallo has helped me succeed in life since then.”  

More Montevallo StoriesSeptember 7, 2022

Montevallo M.A.D.E. Program Receives $25,000 Donation from Holle Family Foundation

The Holle Family Foundation donated $25,000 to the University of Montevallo’s M.A.D.E. (Minorities Achieving Dreams of Excellence) program in early September. The Holle Family Foundation was established in 2014 to continue the philanthropic commitments of Everett Holle and his family by promoting individuals and institutions throughout Central Alabama that nurture individual accomplishment and worth by […]

Read More
More Montevallo StoriesAugust 3, 2022

UM’s Model United Nations Team Returned to In-Person Competition and Picked Up Multiple Awards

After competing online in 2020 due to the pandemic, the University of Montevallo’s Model United Nations team triumphantly returned to in-person competition and won a conference-wide Outstanding Position Paper and a Best Delegate award for the INTERPOL committee at the 2021 Southern Regional Model United Nations conference in Atlanta at the end of November. Dr. […]

Read More
More Montevallo StoriesJuly 15, 2022

Montevallo Students Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Montevallo Political Science Professor Dr. Scott Turner took 20 UM students to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee   in March as part of his National Parks and Public Lands class. The class is an elective that’s a mix between political science, environmental studies and an honors course. It’s taught every other year and involves […]

Read More