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Pitch Perfect

Mary Winters

Music student thrilled by international honour

by Jeff Green

Mary Winters is still glowing.

That’s because wrapping up another hectic semester recently took on extra special meaning for the second-year music student, who is completing a psychology minor.

Crammed in between studying for finals and rehearsing for year-end performances, the 19-year-old St. John’s native was offered a chance of a lifetime last month.

She was named one of a select few Canadians to receive a 2008-2009 Killam Fellowship, 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 with a smile. “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.”

Ms. Winters 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.

Being chosen as a Killam Fellow is no easy feat.

In fact, it’s an elaborate process involving applications, selection committees at each partner university, and an independent adjudication committee made up of two Canadian professors and two U.S. professors.

Selection is based on a combination of academic standing, personal statements and letters of reference.

For her part, Ms. Winters said she’s looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of studying abroard.

“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 seventh Memorial student and the second School of Music laureate to be chosen for the Killam Fellowships program. Matthew Bown was chosen during the 2006-07 academic year, also holding his fellowship at Ithaca.

Other past Memorial Killam Fellowship recipients include pharmacy student Ammara Ghumman, biology student Jessica Bossé, arts student Catherine Andrews, science student Christa Vincent and arts student Mikaela Dyke.

The goal of the program is to increase mutual understanding between Canada and the U.S. through direct, personal involvement.

“The Killam Fellowships Program allows extraordinary students, like Mary Winters, to experience life in the United States,” said Dr. Michael K. Hawes, executive director of the Foundation for Educational Exchange Between Canada and the United States of America.

“We are thrilled that Mary has accepted this honour and look forward to working with her as a music student at Ithaca College. We are also very pleased, though not at all surprised, that another excellent Memorial student has been selected to participate in this prestigious program.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Winters 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 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.”

To learn more about the Killam Fellowships, visit