Student Comments

This letter is to express my appreciation for being awarded the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship. I am extremely grateful to receive this award! It is a tremendous privilege to have the opportunity to play in such a talented orchestra alongside such incredible celebrity artists. I have grown so much as a musician since joining the orchestra, and as a music major, that is something I greatly value. I truly appreciate the chance to grow as a musician through the orchestra, and also to be considered for scholarships while performing. This scholarship will help me immensely in my journey towards getting my degree as a music major at UMW. I will strive to do well in my studies and live up to this investment. Thank you again for your generosity!
Emily Sawyer

 I greatly appreciate that I have been chosen for this scholarship. I didn’t have much experience playing in an Orchestra until I came here to the University of Mary Washington. I can honestly say that now one of the things I look forward to every week is Philharmonic rehearsal. It gives me a chance to take my mind off of computer science for a few hours while I spend that time on my one of my favorite hobbies, music. Also, I wouldn’t have met experienced community members if I hadn’t been in the Philharmonic. Much like in other trombone sections, I feel privileged to be a part of an Orchestra section that gets along well, has fun, and is all on the same page. The experiences I’ve had playing in this orchestra have been phenomenal, especially the Christmas performance with Tony Bennett. Being a big band fan, the opportunity to perform on the same stage with the legendary Tony Bennett and Harold Jones from Count Basie’s orchestra is a once in a lifetime experience. I’m looking forward to the Kristin Chenoweth concert, president Paino’s inauguration, and to playing Copland Appalachian Spring; should be fun!
Thank you for the scholarship, I really don’t have enough words to express my gratitude.
Josh Kaurich

Thank you so much for the financial support to encourage the performing arts, it is something that is not usually funded well and I feel very fortunate to be here at UMW where orchestra provides the student musicians as many rewards as it does.
Thomas Meldrum

I am tremendously grateful for being awarded the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship. I would like to thank James E. Baker for founding this scholarship. This scholarship is for the students who complete academic and participation requirements for the Philharmonic. I am honored to be recognized and thank the Philharmonic for providing the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship. Music brings a sense of passion to my life and community. Participating in the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra has brought me great opportunities. This past year, like many before, has awarded me the opportunity to be exposed to celebrity musicians, such as Tony Bennett and Joshua Bell.
I am humbled to accept the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship. This scholarship will provide me with a great deal of aid for my last upcoming semester of college. The Philharmonic organization has provided me with an abundance of financial support, and I greatly appreciate the help along my journey to graduate with a music degree.
Warm regards,
Caitlin S. Colie

I cannot begin to express my excitement and gratitude upon receiving the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship. For many years it has been my dream to be a part of the University of Mary Washington (UMW) Philharmonic Orchestra and to earn a music scholarship. Having both aspirations come to fruition is an immense affirmation of my musicianship and a tremendous reward for all my years of violin study, particularly the past six.
Few know how challenging the past few years have been for me as a musician. In 2010, after having played violin for ten years, I lost all use of my left hand in the course of six weeks. For six months I was in constant pain and unable to play my violin until the diagnosis and surgical removal of a ganglion cyst in my left wrist. What followed was extensive physical therapy for my wrist, back, and neck as well as having to relearn how to play the violin with a different technique. I also had to accept the reality that I would no longer be able to play a full-size violin. Despite downsizing to a 7/8 violin and then to a 3/4, I still had pain. When I decided to look for a 1/2 size violin, I was told I would never find a decent-sounding instrument that would reflect my musical ability. In effect, I was informed that my dreams were over—there would be little chance of my ever playing in the UMW Philharmonic, and no one would fathom awarding me a music scholarship.
I wondered if I should give up violin altogether, especially when no acceptable1/2 size violin could be found. But I hoped, and I prayed. Months later, our contact found a lovely-sounding instrument that fit the dimensions I needed. Then came the long search for a fractional bow that would allow me to do advanced techniques but not crush the sound of my violin. I finally found such a bow eight months ago.
The past six years have definitely been challenging due to my injury, surgery, rehab, downsizing, and countless hours of practice in learning new techniques. It has now been nearly three years since I made the switch to a 1/2 size violin, and I have been pain free ever since.
For me, receiving the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship is far more than an immense honor. It is also an affirmation that I made the right decision not to quit playing violin and thus forfeit my dreams. In addition, the generosity of James E. Baker will enable me to devote more time to practicing as I will not have to work while school is in session to supplement my income. Lastly, the scholarship award will allow me to save for physical therapy graduate school. As a physical therapist, I hope to help other musicians recover from injuries so they can continue doing what they enjoy most—expressing their souls through music.
Thank you very much for serving as the representative for the James E. Baker University-Community Scholarship. I am immeasurably thankful that Mr. Baker created a scholarship to reward music students he would never meet. I will endeavor to become the finest violinist I can be and to bring my very best to every Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsal and performance. I look forward to growing in my musicianship and sharing the joy of music with others as I continue playing in this outstanding ensemble throughout my college experience at UMW.
Kate Keating

I am writing to express my thanks for the James E. Baker University- Community Orchestra Scholarship. I am honored to be a recipient of this award.  I am an International Affairs major and Linguistics minor in my senior year at UMW. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the orchestra for the past three years!  I am very thankful for this generation donation and I am sad this is my last semester playing with the Philharmonic.
Caitriona Cobb

As a recipient of the James E. Baker University-Community Orchestra Scholarship, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the tremendous support that you have provided me through this award.
Over the course of my academic and work career, I have learned the ways in which English can be taught within secondary schools, have taught in a classroom, worked at a summer camp, and have become employed as a Substitute Instructional Aid in Fairfax County. I am currently enrolled in the five-year Undergraduate-Graduate Program with a major in English. I have been involved with a club, named Best Buddies, where individuals can spend time with their friends in an inclusive environment. This club has strengthened my interpersonal skills and has given me a fun experience. My passion for teaching and music coincide with one another which is why I am part of both the UMW Philharmonic Orchestra and Symfonics A Cappella while completing the five-year program. I am currently assistant music director of Symfonics A Cappella and am in charge of the group whenever the music director is busy or sick. This includes conducting and arranging the songs that are performed. When I am not studying, I am almost always arranging music or practicing flute for orchestra. This scholarship has not only allowed me to focus on my studies but has also allowed me to devote some extra time to my other activities
I look forward to successfully completing the five-year undergraduate-graduate program and continuing to pursue my career as an English teacher. Thank you, once again, for your generous support.
Samantha Meyers

I am very honored and grateful for your generous gift. Thank you very much! I have enjoyed playing in the Phil Harmonic and have enjoyed all of the opportunities that it has offered me. Being able to play on stage with Tony Bennet was an amazing experience and I am looking forward to playing with Kristin. Again, I thank you very much for your gift and your dedication to the orchestra. Have a great evening.
Jordan Noë