It was no April Fool’s joke but it did catch Mary Winters by surprise.
The second-year Memorial University of Newfoundland music student, who is completing a psychology minor, found out last week she’s one of 10 Canadian students handpicked as winners of 2008-2009 Killam Fellowships, a prestigious study-abroad program that offers students a chance to study in the United States for a semester.
Fellowships are valued at $10,000 U.S. each.
“I’m not sure if it’s fully sunk in yet,” she said. “I was absolutely ecstatic when I got the e-mail. My friends were all really supportive and happy for me. When I told my parents, they thought I was joking because I got the e-mail on April 1. But, they’re both really proud of me.”
The 19-year-old St. John’s, N.L., native will spend four months, from January to May of next year, studying at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., where she’ll continue her piano and music studies as well as enrolling in several psychology courses.
She said she’s looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of studying aboard.
“I’ve created a comfort zone for myself by living at home while attending MUN, and I think being a Killam Fellow will help to push me outside of that comfort zone,” she noted. “It will encourage me to face challenges and obstacles that will help me grow and develop on a personal, as well as an academic level.”
Ms. Winters is the second School of Music laureate at Memorial University to be chosen for the Killam Fellowships program. Matthew Bown was chosen during the 2006-07 academic year, also holding his fellowship at Ithaca.
She said she’ll foster her love of music even further while spending time south of the border. She currently teaches private music lessons and is a member of the St. John’s-based Lady Cove Women’s Choir.
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” she said. “I have taken piano and voice lessons all of my life and I have decided to continue my studies in this area. I hope to become a music therapist once I've finish my studies."
More information about the Killam Fellowship is available online www.killamfellowships.com/