Annie Thomas ’24 Earns Prestigious Beinecke Scholarship The Beinecke Scholarship Program provides funds for post-graduate study to students of unusual promise.
Annie Thomas ’24, a music and English double major at Washington and Lee University, has won a $35,000 Beinecke Scholarship to help fund her graduate studies. Thomas is a native of Madison, Mississippi, and attended Madison Central High School.
The Beinecke Scholarship Program provides scholarships for the graduate education of students of unusual promise. The program encourages their pursuit of opportunities available in the study of the arts, humanities and social sciences.
“I plan to use the scholarship to help fund my graduate studies in choral conducting,” Thomas said. “W&L’s interdisciplinary focus has allowed me to combine my interests in music and religion in academic and performance-based settings. I am interested in the relationship between music and apocalypticism, and I hope to explore this further as I work toward creating more inclusive spaces in sacred music.”
Thomas has played piano and sung in choirs her entire life, but it wasn’t until getting involved in the university’s choral conducting mentorship program (CCMP) that she fell in love with the role of the conductor.
“My love for sacred music is also something I have discovered during my time at W&L,” Thomas said. “I’ve actually had the opportunity to study the organ this past year, which I hope to continue in graduate school, as well.”
Shane Lynch, professor of music and director of choral activities at W&L, has advised Thomas throughout her undergraduate journey. Lynch launched the CCMP in fall 2009 following his arrival to the university’s music department.
“Annie is one of the best musicians, but more importantly, one of the best people I have had the privilege of working with in more than 24 years of university teaching,” Lynch said. “I have known Annie since her senior year of high school, and in that time, I have witnessed her helping others in more ways than I can count. This manifests itself in many ways, both large and small. Multiple times, I have known that Annie had minimal time for her own work, especially in the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic these past few years. Nevertheless, I then watched her give freely of this limited time to help others with their studies. Annie has a profound interest in helping others, especially in their times of need.”
In addition to being a member of the selective CCMP, Thomas is the assistant conductor for two entry-level ensembles at W&L. She is involved with all of the W&L choirs including the University Singers, Cantatrici and Glee Club. She is on the Campus Kitchen Leadership Team, a member of the peer counseling team and a Campus Garden intern. Off campus, Thomas interns with the Rockbridge Youth Chorale and works as a music scholar at Grace Episcopal Church.
“My heart is filled with gratitude as I think of all of the past and present teachers, mentors and friends I am certain I could not have gotten to this point without,” said Thomas. “I have been floating the last few days since hearing the news, and I don’t think this feeling will go away anytime soon! As I look to the future, I am eager to pay this gift forward through music that connects and heals communities.”
The Beinecke Scholarship is highly competitive. Since 1975, the program has selected 699 college juniors from more than 120 different undergraduate institutions for support during graduate study at any accredited university. Each scholar receives $5,000 immediately before entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.