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Moscardelli to receive Cumberland’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan award

Staff Reports • Updated May 1, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Alexa Moscardelli will be the recipient of Cumberland University’s Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Saturday’s 176th commencement.

The award, established by the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation, is given to community members who selflessly serve others. Sullivan awards are highly prized and awarded to people whose lives of service have changed the world with little fanfare, as well as those who have become household names – recipients include First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, television icon Fred Rogers and Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell.

Moscardelli is part of the fabric of Lebanon. Her musical, teaching and gardening talents are sprinkled throughout the city. She is active in two book clubs, a bridge club, the Year-Round Garden Club and sings in the choir at the Bert Coble Singers’ annual Christmas dinner show. A member of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, Moscardelli has played the piano for the choir for the last 45 years, which she still enjoys. Alexa is the wife of the late Fran Moscardelli, mother to Michael, Richard and Vincent, and a grandmother of seven. She has called Lebanon home since 1969.

A retired teacher from Wilson County Schools, she taught English at Mt. Juliet Junior High School, sophomore English at Lebanon High School and was a traveling SEEK teacher for the gifted and talented program. She was named Wilson County Teacher of the Year in 1999. Moscardelli’s attitude that “teaching is a privilege” was instilled in her by her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, who were all teachers. For the past three years, she has been a mentor to Tennessee Promise students, two of whom have just finished their freshman year at Cumberland University.

The Moscardelli family’s connection to Cumberland also runs deep. Alexa’s cousin earned a law degree from Cumberland in the 1930s. Alexa and Fran were fans of Cumberland’s basketball team since it won the Tennessee state championship in 1973. In the mid-1980s, then-Cumberland president Bob Clement asked Fran Moscardelli to join the board of trust, for which he was a longtime member. 

“Alexa Moscardelli is one of the most kind, caring and talented people I know. If she was one of your teachers, consider yourself fortunate. I have no doubt that she has positively impacted thousands of lives in Lebanon, and the Moscardelli family’s involvement with Cumberland University has made and continues to make a difference in the lives of our students,” said Cumberland president Paul Stumb.

Moscardelli personally experienced the quality of Cumberland when she took some classes to renew her teaching license in the early 1990s. Even though she attended the University of Georgia and received her degree from the University of Maryland, she said, at those schools, she “never enjoyed the personal touch, the sense of community, caring and competence that I experienced from Cumberland professors.” 

The Moscardellis also played host for two years to an international student from Kuwait who was stranded without money for tuition or housing after he lost contact with his family during the Gulf War. He has become a successful businessman in Houston, and Moscardelli said she is proud of Cumberland’s role in his quest for the American dream.

Alexa and Fran Moscardelli were married for 46 years when he died in 2012. The family established the Francis George Moscardelli Memorial Scholarship at Cumberland, which has a special provision. First preference is given to out-of-state students. The stipulation was made because Fran Moscardelli, a self-proclaimed “Yankee Italian,” felt welcomed by the Lebanon community. 

“Our family’s hope is that students who come here from out-of-state will remain in Wilson County after they graduate. We want them to put down roots in our community and thrive here, just as Fran did,” Alexa Moscardelli said.

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