Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., May 11, 2016—The Williams College Office of Fellowships has awarded Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowships to five graduating seniors pursuing careers in the arts: Gabrielle DiBenedetto (dance), Claire Leyden (music), Angelina Lin (art), Sarah Pier (theater), and Tony Wei Ling (creative writing).
The Hubbard Hutchinson Memorial Fellowship is a cash award established in 1940 that is granted to a member or members of the graduating class to support their continued work in the creative and performing arts. Prizes of $22,000 are awarded in the categories of writing, art, dance, theater, and music.
DiBenedetto is a theater and psychology major from Washington Crossing, Pa. She and Pier hope to use their fellowships to revise their senior thesis project, Stuck Upstairs, to include more music and dance, and to tour the show at festivals and schools. This summer, DiBenedetto will work as a choreographer for the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Mass. Later, she hopes to move to New York, work on theatrical projects, and pursue a career in special education. “Starting a career in theater or dance is incredibly difficult, especially since I am interested primarily in creating my own work,” she says. “Winning the [fellowship] means that I will able to live in a city where I am surrounded by an artistic culture, as well as close to my creative partners, and it will allow me to spend time creating and revising my project. It also means that I will be able to keep educating people about mental illness and continue the conversation that my thesis began here at Williams.”
Leyden is a music and English double major from Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. She studied vocal performance during her time at Williams and recently completed a senior thesis. Her recital focused on art song setting of folk songs, particularly those by composers who set folk songs from cultures different than or foreign to their own. This summer, she will be a member of the resident Vocal Company at the College Light Opera Company in Falmouth, Mass., and perform in nine operettas and musicals. Before applying to graduate school next year, she plans to live in Boston and continue her vocal training. The fellowship will give her the freedom to apply for and participate in intensive programs requiring tuition. “Knowing that the entire music department faculty here has enough faith in me and my future to honor me with the Hutchinson has really made me seriously acknowledge that I can, and should, pursue music as a full-time career,” Leyden said.
A comparative literature and art major from Morganville, N.J., Lin is a photographer who incorporates video, digital animation, and graphics into her work. She has an interest in the boundary between the real and manufactured. While at Williams, her artwork has explored relational failure and reproduction of expectation, and how they are connected. She is currently working on a senior art project that will be displayed at the Williams College Museum of Art. After graduation, she hopes to work in arts administration with a nonprofit organization, museum, or gallery, or in arts publishing, while setting aside time for her own work. “Winning the Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship means I can take the risks I thought were too great,” she says.
Pier, a theater major from Freeport, Maine, focuses on design and management within theater. She designed several department shows during her time at Williams. This year, she was the production manager for the student theater group Cap and Bells. She and DiBenedetto collaborated on a thesis, creating a theatrical production, titled Stuck Upstairs, based on interviews with young adults suffering from depression. In addition to continuing to work on Stuck Upstairs, she plans to pursue a career in theatrical management in New York City. “I never expected the award, and it’s such an honor to be recognized in this way and to have my work supported so strongly. It has allowed me to think about pursuing a project for which I have such passion in a way I never would have been able to before,” she says.
Wei Ling is an English major from San Jose, Calif., with a focus on fiction writing. Last fall, she completed a collection of short stories, An Introduction to Problem Children, for her thesis. Wei Ling says in her writing at Williams, she has spent time moving the gaze and power from the reader to her subject. Her plans for post-graduate life include living in the Berkeley area, writing, and making art. She says the Hutchinson would give her “the freedom to spend next year writing, revising, and reading.” She plans to stay involved in editing, and hopes to work with a publishing platform that supports new art and writing. “I hope to spend most of my time accumulating new material, heavily revising, and publishing my stories,” she added. Wei Ling plans to pursue a Ph.D. in English or comparative literature.
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.