After 30 years, R&B singer Regina Belle returns to Rutgers  to accept her degree from the School of Arts and Sciences.


Regina Belle, who majored in Africana studies and minored in music, performed one of her most beloved songs, “Dream in Color,” at the School of Arts and Sciences convocation.

Nick Romanenko

Regina Belle—the Grammy Award-winning rhythm-and-blues singer, mother of five, grandmother, and wife of a pastor—has had a full life. But for years, Belle SAS’15, best known for “A Whole New World,” the 1992 hit from the Disney film Aladdin, felt there was something missing. It was her Rutgers degree.

Attending the university in the early 1980s, she left during her senior year to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer. “There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me I need to get that diploma,” says Belle, a native of Englewood, New Jersey.

Nearly three decades and 10 acclaimed albums later, Belle received her degree on May 17 during the University Commencement at High Point Solutions Stadium, the culmination of two years of taking online courses through the School of Arts and Sciences and earning the 15 credits she needed for her degree. Following commencement, Belle, who majored in Africana studies and minored in music, performed “Dream in Color”  at the School of Arts and Sciences  convocation.

Earning her degree, Belle says, is as important to her as winning a Grammy, which she won for “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.” Belle’s mid-life mission to earn her diploma developed out of a conversation with three young women in her church, New Shield of Faith Christian Ministries, the Atlanta congregation led by her husband, John Battle LC’85, a former Scarlet Knights and NBA basketball player. The women were having doubts about whether to attend college. Belle lectured them about the importance of a college education. “I told them, ‘I need to pray about this,’” she says. “But I could hear a voice in my head telling me: ‘You don’t need to pray about this. You need to go back to school, because experience is the best teacher.’”

Belle brokered a deal with the women, agreeing that if she could earn her degree, they certainly could, too. Belle maintained her active concert and recording schedule while completing coursework. On graduation day, Belle’s extended family, her management, and even a Facebook fan witnessed her big day, her own Dream in Color. And other dreams are coming true: the three women whom Belle counseled are enrolled in public colleges in Georgia.

— John Chadwick