After finding connection with Alpha Omega Campus Ministry as a freshman, the Mann Scholar remains “passionate about being able to do this same thing for others.”
The importance of relationships is a common thread in Nandi Traywick ’16’s story. It was her relationship with her middle school basketball coach that led her to Ravenscroft, and it’s the relationships she built at Ravenscroft that she valued most during her time here. Perhaps that’s why, during a bout of homesickness in her freshman year of college, she sought out nurturing and supportive relationships through campus ministry, a decision that changed the trajectory of her career path.
“The community I found at Ravenscroft made all the difference for me,” she said. “Ravenscroft by nature, as a small school, is its own community. My time in high school truly became community-based.”
At Ravenscroft, Traywick played both varsity volleyball, for which she was named the Team MVP in 2016, and varsity basketball, receiving the Coaches Award and being named All-Conference Honorable Mention her senior year; she is shown here in the 2015 Corvus yearbook, at center.
When she graduated from Ravenscroft in 2016 as an honor-roll student with many accolades and accomplishments to her name, Traywick already imagined that engaging in community building would be an important part of her future.
“I started out as a public health major at Georgia State University believing I would enter the education side of the field upon graduation,” she explained. “When I felt alone on campus, and so far from home, I was connected with Alpha Omega Campus Ministry. I loved it, and I never left. I made incredible relationships with incredible women.”
Traywick (at center) celebrates her college graduation with some of the friends she made through Alpha Omega Campus Ministry.
Traywick said she has continued many friendships from Georgia State, including traveling to Paris with two close friends earlier this year.
Traywick was a part of the ministry all four years in college. “I served on my campus ministry’s leadership team my last three years of college,” she said. “The biggest thing that I learned is that the best leaders are those who are willing to serve the people in their groups through loving well and unconditionally.”
Upon her graduation in 2020, she was offered the opportunity to lead the ministry’s work on three different campuses in Atlanta — Georgia State University, Georgia Tech and Emory University — roles she continues to serve in today. The organization supports and nurtures students through ministry that includes community service and outreach, Bible study and devotionals, and social gatherings.
“In college, I had great campus ministers. Different women mentored me and showed me the Bible in ways I had never seen before,” she said. “When I graduated, I was passionate about being able to do this same thing for others. I have been given so much in my life; it was only natural to want to give that back.”
Traywick is pictured with LaToya Massey, women’s ministry leader at her church, whom she describes as a mentor who “has been a major influence in my life.”
“Always led by example”
It was a similar connection that brought Traywick to Ravenscroft. As a young athlete on both the volleyball and basketball courts, she was encouraged by a coach familiar with Ravenscroft’s programs to seek out the strong academic offerings here.
“My middle school basketball coach’s daughter was the assistant coach at Ravenscroft, and she encouraged my parents to send me there,” she said. “Financially, it would have been impossible for me to attend. That’s when the school told us about the Mann Family Scholarship.”
The Mann Family Scholarship was established in 1998 by parents Tom and Jane Mann to recognize outstanding students of color with strong academic potential, character and leadership.
“I applied to attend Ravenscroft and then was offered the opportunity to interview for the scholarship,” Traywick remembered. “The scholarship was what made it fully possible for me to attend.”
Traywick contributed greatly to Ravenscroft during her time here. School nurse and alumni parent Gina Taylor, who was on the volleyball coaching staff when Traywick played for the Ravens, remembered that “Nandi always led by example. She was a hardworking student who took pride in her work in the classroom and her performance on the court. I remember her as a volleyball player who always encouraged others while requiring the best from herself,” she said.
Traywick (third row, at left) co-directed a summer camp in Trinidad and Tobago this summer and poses here with attendees and the other members of her mission team.
“Most proud of the relationships I’ve built”
Since the first class of Mann Scholars in 2003, 14 students have attended the school thanks in part to earnings from this endowment.
Tom and Jane Mann have each served as Ravenscroft trustees, an experience that gave them valuable insight into both the benefits of a more diverse school community and the role financial aid can play in making that happen. Their scholarship fund and others like it play an important role in a financial aid budget that totals $3.5 million this year. In all, 224 students — 18% of the student body — are receiving some form of financial aid in 2022-23.
When the Manns first envisioned creating a scholarship fund, they were driven by a desire to share with other families in the community the opportunities and experiences Ravenscroft had given their three children, Ellen ’98, Alston ’01 and Katie ’03.
“My brother, sister and I received exceptional educations at Ravenscroft,” Ellen Mann O'Connor explained. “And that education went beyond a core curriculum — Ravenscroft students have access to the fine arts, computer science, off-campus experiences, travel, guest speakers and more.”
For Traywick, the opportunities she found at Ravenscroft helped shape her experiences in college and beyond — in particular, the sense of community and connection.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the relationships I formed along the way, and I am most proud of the relationships that I built at Ravenscroft,” Traywick concluded. “From coaches and teammates to teachers and classmates, I can go back on campus and see a familiar face. I know I am welcome there.”