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Jennifer Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2011

IU junior Kip Hutchins receives 2011 Beinecke Scholarship

Hutchins is a Hutton Honors College student with a dual major in linguistics and folklore

April 25, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University junior Kip Hutchins, 19, has been awarded a 2011 Beinecke Scholarship that he can apply to the graduate school of his choice. Hutchins plans to use the award to further his Mongolian studies following his projected May 2012 graduation.

A Hutton Honors College scholar double majoring in linguistics and folklore and ethnomusicology in the IU College of Arts and Sciences, he is one of 20 students nationwide to receive a Beinecke Scholarship, and the seventh IU student to win the award, which was established in 1971. IU students have earned the Beinecke Scholarship in four of the last five years.

Each Beinecke Scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school. There are no geographic restrictions on the use of the scholarship, and recipients are allowed to supplement the award with other scholarships, assistantships and research grants.

"We are thrilled for Kip," said Hutton Honors College Dean Matt Auer. "He is gifted at learning and mastering both familiar and less commonly taught languages, and he chose wisely by attending IU for his language training. We wish Kip much luck, and we are grateful to the Sperry Fund, which administers the Beinecke Scholarship program, for recognizing Kip's amazing talent."

At just 16, Hutchins began college at Appalachian State University near his Western North Carolina home, transferring to IU a year later to pursue his interests in folklore and linguistics.

"Being a student at IU has sort of enabled everything," Hutchins said. "It has allowed me to study languages from all over the world that I would never, ever have access to otherwise. It has allowed me to pursue folklore and linguistics as academic fields -- the university where I started didn't have departments in either area."

This summer, he will travel to Mongolia to research communication -- in particular, music used to communicate -- between the members of a settled Mongolian community within a dominant historical culture of nomadism.

Hutchins said his father taught in Ghana before he was born, and raised him with an idea of what West Africa was like. After attending a high school that offered only Spanish and French language classes (and when the French teacher left for another job, just Spanish), he was amazed by the many languages taught at IU.

"Before I came to IU, I had never heard Mongolian spoken before," he said. "It was definitely the most striking to me, and I grew into liking it as a language. In a lot of ways, Mongolian culture is very similar to Appalachian culture, which is what I was used to."

Part of that Appalachian culture included lots of storytelling. Growing up, Hutchins heard Bible stories from his mom, myths of various cultures from his dad and Appalachian folk tales from storytellers at the local folklore center when he was in elementary school.

"Stories were the way my family communicated," he said. "We told folk tales or slightly dramatized versions of what happened during the day at dinner. Even now, if I was talking to a friend from North Carolina, I would probably use more sayings and proverbs. Rather than saying something directly, I would use a story to illustrate a point."

One of his favorite Appalachia-ism: "If you want to drink with the devil, make sure to have a long spoon" (meaning "keep that person at arm's length or they will do you harm"). He also likes an expression in Bambara, which translates to "If you fall on a log, it will hurt you; if a log falls on you, it will hurt you."

"I thought that one was funny. It means the same thing -- a log is a log. No matter how you deal with it, you will get hurt."

Overall, being able to study in IU's departments of folklore and linguistics, as well as African and Mongolian studies, has helped Hutchins to fine-tune his research. "The faculty in these programs is really great. IU has pretty much allowed me to do everything I've wanted to do."

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