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Last modified: Friday, December 2, 2011

IU students, alumna named 2012 Marshall Scholars

Dec. 2, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University students Madalyn Parnas and Miles Taylor and alumna Elizabeth Ogonek have been named 2012 Marshall Scholars, tying the university's 1995 record for highest number of recipients for the prestigious scholarship in a single year.

Miles Taylor

Miles Taylor

Valued at over $60,000, the scholarship pays for graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom, including fees, living expenses, fares to and from the U.S., and grants for books, research, daily travel and a thesis. The scholarships were founded by the British Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, in which the United States helped the countries of Western Europe rebuild after the destruction of World War II.

"These three students exemplify the very best of Indiana University through their pursuit of academic excellence and engagement in extracurricular activities that have broadened their understanding of the world beyond the walls of the university," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "As recipients of the prestigious and highly selective Marshall Scholarship, they will be able to continue their personal and professional growth and prepare themselves for future leadership positions locally and globally.

"I had the pleasure of working with Miles Taylor when he served my office as IU's first-ever Presidential Student Intern and a member of my student advisory board, the Board of Aeons," McRobbie added. "In both of these roles, Miles proved to be a highly intelligent, driven and dedicated young man, destined for success as he pursues a career in public service. Miles, Madalyn and Elizabeth each deserve our sincere congratulations, and we could not be prouder of their accomplishments."

Elizabeth Ogonek

Ogonek's childhood was saturated with music. Raised by a single mother who spent long hours in church as an organist, she enrolled in Manhattan School of Music's Preparatory Division at age 5. Later, she began studying piano at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Mass., where she discovered her love for composition.

Elizabeth Ogonek

Elizabeth Ogonek

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"It was empowering to create something from nothing, send it off into the world and watch it come to life in the hands of other musicians," Ogonek wrote in her application for the Marshall Scholarship. "This excited me in the most unimaginable way!"

That inspired her wish to become a classical composer, focusing on music that creates a distinct sense of drama, imagery and color. She's shared that gift with underprivileged children and prisoners, projects she said helped her understand music's capacity to move the human spirit and gave her a renewed sense of duty as an artist-citizen.

Ogonek anticipates using her Marshall Scholarship to study composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

"Ultimately, I see going to school in London as an opportunity to take a risk to be a different kind of composer," she wrote in her application. "By participating in the legacy of British music, I see it as an opportunity to break free from the boundary that is the American 'academy' and follow in the footsteps of my own musical heroes. For me, as an American, this offers a chance to wander in search of a musical voice, a compositional language that has the potential to transcend cultural and continental boundaries by appealing to an international audience."

Ogonek graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the Jacobs School of Music in December 2009 and is studying for a master's in composition at the University of California's Thornton School of Music on a Beinecke Scholarship.

She is the recipient of several awards from ASCAP, the 2010 Dean's Prize from Indiana University, the 2010 PACO Youth-for-Youth Commission and a fellowship from the Wellesley Composers Conference. She has received commissions from the Brillaner Duo, the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, horn player Alma Maria Liebrecht and the Deviant Septet. Her music has been performed by the Indiana University Concert Orchestra, the Wellesley Sinfonietta, Dinosaur Annex, the Brillaner Duo, members of eighth blackbird and the Britten-Pears Ensemble. Her chamber orchestra piece Ringing the Quiet will receive its official premiere in the 2012 Aldeburgh Festival.

"I am absolutely ecstatic to be named a 2012 Marshall Scholar. I realize this is a rare opportunity, and I feel incredibly privileged to receive this honor," Ogonek said. "Through the Jacobs School of Music and the Honors College, IU supported my studies every step of the way. I would never be where I am today if it weren't for the incredibly personalized instruction that I received from the faculty at the music school. In addition, the Honors College, through their grants programs, facilitated extensive opportunities for me to attend festivals and programs throughout Europe."

Madalyn Parnas

For a student who will have completed high school, a four-year bachelor's degree and a two-year Artist Diploma by age 21, an accelerated course of study for a master's degree from the Royal Academy of Music should pose no difficulty.

Madalyn Parnas

Madalyn Parnas

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Parnas aims to complete her studies there under Hungarian violinist György Pauk in one year, writing in her scholarship application that she thrives on such challenges: "I learn best and grow most in an immersive environment that demands intense concentration and an extremely focused approach."

Parnas said her time studying at IU's Jacobs School of Music, living in Bloomington and performing alongside cellist sister Cicely as duo parnas is "clearly a defining piece of my musical and personal maturation. I simply cannot imagine having been anywhere else in the world during this period of what feels like personal growth at lightning speed."

She said working with conductor David Dzubay in the New Music Ensemble, performing nearly daily, teaching elementary children "the joy of music making" and being mentored by Jaime Laredo "were all experienced in an environment where gifted colleagues challenged me in the most congenial of ways, leaving an enduring legacy of friendships that I will always carry with me."

Duo parnas has won first prize in an international chamber music competition at Carnegie Hall, and Parnas was a finalist in the National ASTA Soloist Competition and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Concerto Competition.

Parnas, who anticipates receiving an Artist Diploma in violin from the Jacobs School of Music in May, said she hopes to combine her future doctoral studies with a lifelong desire to live in New York City.

Miles Taylor

Taylor took his first steps toward fulfilling a 9/11 vow to combat transnational threats in 2008 when, at age 20, he accepted a position with the Department of Homeland Security, becoming the youngest presidential appointee in the Bush administration.

This year, Taylor moved into a position as an associate staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, where he has been part of historic efforts to cut federal spending.

He will graduate with a bachelor's degree in political science and international security studies through IU's Individualized Major Program, and intends to use his Marshall Scholarship to seek a degree in international relations at Oxford.

Calling receiving the Marshall Scholarship an "honor," Taylor said he owes thanks to those who helped inspire him.

"It's a cliché, but I wouldn't be here without the small army of mentors, professors, and -- most importantly -- family and friends that have helped me define who I am," he said. "The best way I can thank them is to actually get out there and make a difference."