Dartmouth student and alum receive scholarships

by Hannah Jinks | 3/26/19 2:05am

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Rex Woodbury '15 has been named a recipient of the Knight Hennessy Scholarship. (Courtesy of Rex Woodbury) 

Following the U.S. State Department’s designation of the College as a top producer of Fulbright scholars, Dartmouth students and alumni have also encountered success with other selective scholarship programs. Aaron Karp GR’19, and Rex Woodbury ’15 have been named recipients of the Luce and Knight-Hennessy scholarships, respectively. 

The Luce Scholars program is a national fellowship program, which was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974. Selected scholars travel to Asia to gain professional experience in their area of interest. The Knight-Hennessy program is a graduate-level scholarship program for study at Stanford University. Knight-Hennessy Scholars receive full funding to pursue any graduate or professional degree at Stanford, including joint and dual degrees.

Karp will begin study as a Luce Scholar after he completes his master’s degree in digital musics at the College. He will receive a stipend, language training and professional placement with an arts organization. The specifics of his placement have not been finalized, but Karp said he hopes to match with South Korea or Japan.  

Karp said that his passion for music extends back to his childhood — he has played the violin and the viola since he was three years old. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University, he pursued majors in music and computer science, for which he developed a passion in high school. 

Aaron Karp '19 has been named a recipient of the Luce Scholarship.

(Courtesy of Aaron Karp)

Dartmouth’s Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies’ master’s program in digital musics reconciled these interests, according to Karp. 

“I started my undergraduate degree in viola performance, but by [my senior year], I also grew interested in composition, and my computer science research involved music as well,” Karp said. “[Dartmouth’s program in] digital musics is a perfect opportunity to combine computer science, music composition and the performance experience I have.”

Karp added that his research at Northwestern and Dartmouth helped him stand out in an accomplished pool of applicants. He said he researched novel music and audio interfaces for individuals with visual impairments through Northwestern’s Interactive Audio Lab. At Dartmouth, he developed a multimedia installation in the Black Family Visual Arts Center that uses generative visual and sonic algorithms to mimic avian flocking behavior. His master’s thesis focuses on the theory and application of mass audio surveillance and machine learning in sound.

“What drew me to [the Luce Scholarship] is that you don’t pitch a specific project like you would with [the Fulbright Program],” said Karp. “You pitch yourself and your direction and, as a result, the program is incredibly open and fluid.” 

Karp added that he is focused on experimental, electronic and electroacoustic composition as well as sound installation. He said the Luce Scholarship program offers unique opportunities in these fields because of its location. 

“[All] of those areas have incredibly rich histories and contemporary communities in Asia,” said Karp. 

Woodbury plans to pursue an MBA at The Stanford Graduate School of Business. Leadership development workshops and mentorship opportunities are available to each cohort. 

Woodbury graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He fostered passions for athletics and LGBTQ+ advocacy while in high school and college. At Dartmouth, he ran varsity cross country and track and eventually set the Guinness World Record for fastest half-marathon while wearing a suit and tie. As an openly gay athlete, he realized the unique struggle of reconciling his sexuality with sports culture. He created the Connect Mentoring Program for members of the LGBTQ+ community to help others in his position. After graduation, he founded Worthy Mentoring, a nonprofit organization with similar ambitions, and appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show for his work. 

He explained that his passions extend to technology, education and social impact. He worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs before becoming chief of staff at TPG Growth and The Rise Fund, an environmental and social-focused impact investment fund.

Woodbury said he developed interest in the Knight-Hennessy scholarship in part due to its multidisciplinary, community-focused environment. He added that the program parallels Dartmouth’s liberal arts curriculum, which exposed him to multiple fields of study and encouraged “breadth and depth of learning.” 

“My time in Hanover showed me that the world’s most intractable problems require multidisciplinary solutions,” said Woodbury. “[This is also] a foundational belief of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program.”

The selection processes for the Luce and Knight-Hennessy scholarships differ. Each candidate for the Luce scholarship must first be nominated by one of 75 participating U.S. colleges and universities, including Dartmouth. The Knight-Hennessy scholarship accepts and encourages international applications and does not require formal nomination from the candidate’s alma mater. However, both scholarship programs evaluate candidates by a similar set of criteria, such as leadership, civic involvement and academic achievement. Only 18 scholars were selected from a pool of 162 nominees for the Luce scholarship — roughly equal to 11 percent of nominees; the Knight-Hennessy program accepted 69 out of 4,424 applicants — roughly equal to 1.5 percent of applicants. 

Assistant dean of faculty for scholarship advising Jessica Smolin said she loves to see Dartmouth students represented in extremely competitive fellowship programs. She noted that the Knight-Hennessy scholarship program has included Dartmouth students in both of their inaugural cohorts — Woodbury is the third Dartmouth alumnus to receive the award.

“It’s wonderful to see students like [Karp and Woodbury] who are doing really groundbreaking, innovative work,” said Smolin.

Smolin emphasized that both current students and alumni may receive advising from Dartmouth’s fellowship center.

Karp and Woodbury both said they are ecstatic and grateful for the opportunity to study their respective fields in Asia and in Stanford’s highly-ranked business school.

“It’s certainly not something I expected to be awarded,” said Karp. “I would not have been able to study and work in Asia if it weren’t for this scholarship, so I’m very excited.”

Woodbury said he is “so excited to be part of a group of people who share a desire to change the world.” He added that his support system has enabled his success, and he hopes to utilize his opportunities to help the less fortunate.