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By the time she turned 13, Tiffany Bartholomew '20 of Raleigh could pitch, field and hit well enough to envision attending college on a softball scholarship. So, she started playing year-round on a travel team, seeing that as the best way to attract the attention of college scouts. The plan worked:

Bartholomew would receive 12 scholarship offers, from Division I, II and III universities. By the fall of her senior year in high school, she had stepped foot on the campuses of several schools where she might play ball and was about to make a commitment to one – until, that is, she received an invitation to visit Pfeiffer.

She would eventually attend Pfeiffer on a non-athletic scholarship due to the school’s transition to Division III, whose member schools do not offer athletic scholarships. She felt that Pfeiffer would offer her the kind of multifaceted experience she had known (and wanted) through high school. As a senior at St. David’s School in Raleigh, she played five sports, sang in two choirs and served in campus ministries!

“When I visited Pfeiffer, there was just so much that I loved about it,” Bartholomew said. “I wanted to play here, and I wanted to be a student here. Even if you would have taken sports out of the equation, though, I would have wanted to just be a student here, too. I realized I was looking at other schools just for athletics, but when I came here, it was the academic and the music interests that also brought me here – and the fact that Pfeiffer has a lot of campus ministry opportunities.”

For Bartholomew, the reality of Pfeiffer has more than lived up to her initial expectations. She credits her professors and coaches at Pfeiffer for encouraging her to pursue multiple interests in academics, campus ministries (she’s a sports chaplain), athletics and the arts – even when, for example, a choir practice conflicts with one in track and field. In that case, a culture of cooperation and flexibility enables her to attend the choir practice and then meet with her track coaches or swimming coach to work in practice time she missed with the team.

She has majored in elementary education and special education and intends to teach at an elementary school. Coaching young children in swimming each summer for several years has taught her that she loves working with and teaching kids. A soprano in Pfeiffer’s University Singers, she became a music major after she realized that she could be a teacher during the work week and a music minister at a small church on Sundays; her inspiration was Aza Hudson ‘84, who teaches at North Stanly High School and is the minister of music at First Baptist Church of Albemarle, where Bartholomew attends while she is completing her college education.

When Bartholomew becomes a teacher, she’ll be able to advocate and innovate, drawing on research she did as a member of Pfeiffer’s Undergraduate Honors Program. This research resulted in papers and invitations to present at conferences off campus. It focused on three subjects: the benefits of music education, the benefits of experiential learning (field trips), and the benefits of elementary science education.

Bartholomew student-taught science education this past fall near Pfeiffer at Richfield Elementary School. Her research on the benefits of elementary science education emerged at a time when end-of-year tests measure progress in English language arts and math only, often creating a gap in science education.

“My research concluded that science is very beneficial,” she said. “The knowledge students learn from science classes will benefit their math and reading courses. Also, in 6th and 7th grade, they will be tested on science. You need to teach the foundational knowledge at an early age for them to be successful in upper-level courses.”

As for Bartholomew’s involvement in athletics, she has shined in cross country, track, and swimming in addition to achieving academic honors (i.e., a GPA of 3.5 or higher) each season. She did play softball. However, during a redshirt year, she ran cross country and track, and developed such close friendships with her teammates and coaches that she opted to drop softball. She recognized her love for cross country, swimming and track through the supportive coaching staff and team comradery. As a result of her strong work ethic and athletic skills, these three sports allowed her to set new school records and more importantly help her teams to finish with successful seasons.

In swimming, she holds school records in several individual and in all relay events, and she was the Sun Coast Swim Conference’s best 100-yard breaststroker. In indoor track, she now holds school records in the high jump, the long jump and the pentathlon; in outdoor track, she has achieved school-best results in the 4x100 relay, high jump and the discus.

When Bartholomew unwinds – yes, she does carve out time in her busy schedule to do that – she takes a moment or two to reflect. Or, she participates in such school-organized extracurricular activities as formals and trivia nights.

“Everything I do, I really enjoy, or I wouldn’t be doing it,” she said. “Now that COVID-19 has forced social distancing and online classes, I am finding that I really miss all of the campus activities I’ve been a part of, but now I have an even greater appreciation for my time at Pfeiffer and the friends I’ve made here.”

Swimming