When Liz Bentley enrolled at John Wood Community College, she knew she was taking a step toward pursing her dreams of a career in music.
Liz had begun performing at the age of 14 and by the time she was done with high school, had performed in more than 400 shows. Early on, she knew she had found a passion that she wanted to spend her life pursuing and quickly identified Nashville as the place she wanted to chase her dreams.
Being hyper-focused on her goals, Liz ended up graduating high school a year early at age 17. But, even with her high school diploma, Liz realized she didn’t quite feel ready to move 8 hours away to Nashville. The logical next step to Liz was to enroll at JWCC. John Wood made sense to Liz for many reasons: it was located in her hometown, she was familiar with the campus, and her father is a long-time fire science faculty member, Tom Bentley.
“It was always kind of my plan to attend John Wood. I kind of grew up on campus because my dad has worked there since I was a kid,” remembers Liz. “Looking back, it was a nice transition to go get business type classes and gen eds out of the way while staying in the area, before moving 8 hours away to finish my degree.”
Liz also wanted to use her time at JWCC to give herself a chance to acclimate to the college environment.
“Going to John Wood allows you to get used to the workload and adjust to transition from high school to college,” said Liz. “I graduated as a junior from Quincy Senior High. I needed to feel out the workload for college before I moved away.”
After spending two years at John Wood, Liz transferred to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Now, four years later, Liz has earned her bachelor’s degree in commercial songwriting (with minors in marketing and audio production), is currently enrolled in an MBA program at the same institution, and is starting to look at enrolling in law school. While she remains active in her performing career, her goals have evolved over her time in school.
“You know it’s funny. My dreams have changed over the years…my big dream was to be to come here to be an artist. I would have loved to have done it as a career. I absolutely love Miranda Lambert and I would have loved to be Miranda Lambert. She’s got it made,” laughed Liz. “However, I started song writing. I had written a few songs before I moved here, but I have gotten more into song writing since I have lived here. With my undergrad degree, I did it as a push to write more songs. It has worked out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
“So I wanted to be an artists, then wanted to be a song writer, and now I am looking at law school. With my MBA program there’s a music business concentration. Some of the classes I have taken for both degrees have pushed me to look into Entertainment law. Still in the music-business industry, but a very different path than when I first came down here.”
As she considers the steps she has taken to get where she currently is, Liz would recommend her experience to anyone considering John Wood.
“For me it was a great decision. I still have no college debt,” said Liz. “I think John Wood was a great steppingstone to get me here to Nashville to start my next chapter. Mike Terry and some of my other teachers that I have met at JWCC taught me some great things and they opened my eyes. Mike Terry was a great teacher, and not even just with English. He taught some great life lessons. There were several teachers there, that even now will come to my gigs and talk to me at them. They really helped me make the transition from HS to college and show me what I needed to know along the way. I had good examples to help me to where I am now.”