Grove City College senior Kaitlyn Bennett will begin a fully funded postgraduate study at the University of Oxford this fall thanks to a highly selective scholarship awarded to students based on their dedication to academic vocation and the pursuit of truth.
Bennett, who is completing a Music major with a minor in Philosophy this spring, was selected for a Barry Scholarship, which covers tuition, living, travel and research expenses while students study at the prestigious university. She will be pursuing a Master of Philosophy degree in music performance.
Bennett credited faculty mentors and Grove City College for preparing her to continue her education at one of the world’s elite academies.
“Grove City College offered me the chance to pursue an interdisciplinary education, very similar to the model at Oxford. I was able to take classes in music, philosophy and biblical and religious studies. Professors let me write about the intersections between my interests. The College taught me how to become an independent thinker,” she said.
Bennett is part of the Trustee Fellow program, which supports and challenges top students. She is active in Music Department ensembles, is a missions conference leader and an Admissions Office tour guide. She also teaches piano and is a public speaking coach.
“While the demands of the program ahead of me are incredibly intimidating, my time at Grove City College taught me to pursue truth and beauty in humility. That will remain my primary goal as I transition to studies at Oxford,” she said.
The Barry Scholarship, one of the most generous available, is a relatively new initiative of the Canterbury Institute, an Oxford-based charity that seeks to rediscover the academic vocation. Students cannot apply for the award but must be nominated by one of a small group of professors who are invited to make recommendations. Grove City College Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies Carl R. Trueman is one of them.
“The Foundation then chooses just a handful of the best nominees to receive the award. To say that it is extremely competitive would be an understatement.” Trueman said. “Academically, this is about as big as it gets for an undergraduate looking at postgraduate studies … and, speaking personally, the most exciting moment as a teacher I have ever experienced.”
“I definitely want to thank several professors,” Bennett said, citing Trueman for nominating her and helping her with her scholarship application and a few others for inspiration and assistance in earning admission to Oxford.
“The scholarship is contingent on the student being accepted to Oxford through their own independent application,” Bennett said. “So, I had to prepare a full application to the University of Oxford and that was where a lot of the assistance came in … It’s a daunting application.”
Bennett said current faculty members Dr. Chris Franklin, Philosophy, Dr. Becky Billock, Music, and Dr. Paul Munson, Music, inspired her passion for philosophy, piano performance and musicology and helped maintain a vision for combining those interests. Dr. Beverly Carter, professor of Music, was instrumental in helping craft her Oxford application.
At Oxford, Bennett said she will be studying piano and a broad range of topics including aesthetics, music theory and ethnomusicology. Her research interests include music as narrative, late 19th and early 20th century piano works and engaging modern audiences through effective presentations that combine storytelling and performance. It won’t be all work, though. “I also really want to join a rowing club while I’m in England, she said.
After Oxford, Bennett said she’s pretty sure where she wants to end up. “There’s no doubt in my mind I want to be a teacher, ideally a professor of music at a Christian liberal arts school,” she said.
Bennett, originally from Concord, N.C., lives in Grove City with husband, Matthew.
Funded by the John and Daria Barry Foundation, the namesake scholarship supports graduate study in any discipline, for any degree – master’s, doctorate or second bachelor’s. It provides full funding for tuition, a living stipend, yearly research and travel allowances, and additional support. The Canterbury Institute said it looks for candidates with a “particular constellation” of qualities, including “ways the nominee pursues truth, demonstrates virtue, is sincere to his/her convictions, is open to change and has the capacity to debate controversial points with sincerity and respect.”