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June 12, 2012/For Release Upon Receipt
Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-770-3337, carpem@uncsa.edu


WINSTON-SALEM – The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) has announced the annual recipients of the prestigious William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarship, which pays for tuition, fees, room and board for four years of undergraduate study.

The Kenan Excellence Scholarship recipients for the Class of 2016, entering fall of 2012, are:

  • John “Johnny” Culwell of Anderson, S.C. – School of Music (Guitar)
  • Austin Kellenberger of Asheville, N.C. – School of Music (Vocal Performance)
  • Jinsol “Jin” Kim of Charlotte, N.C. – School of Filmmaking; and
  • Evgeniya “Jenny” Tvorogova of Orlando, Fla. – School of Design and Production (Scenic Technology).

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Excellence Scholarship program was launched in 2005 by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and later endowed by the Trust in 2011 with a $6 million grant, the largest one-time private gift in the school’s history.

“We are delighted to announce these latest Kenan Excellence Scholarship recipients,” said UNCSA Chancellor John Mauceri. “They exemplify the kind of student who will blossom in our professional artist training programs: creative, talented, intelligent, dedicated, disciplined – in a word, outstanding.

“The extraordinary generosity of The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust allows us to attract the very best student-artists from across the country and around the world,” Mauceri added.

Johnny Culwell

Jenny Tvorogova

“The Kenan Excellence Scholarships are among our proudest creations,” said Dr. Richard M. Krasno, executive director of The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. “The Trust established and endowed this scholarship program to demonstrate our confidence in the exceptional educational experience the University of North Carolina School of the Arts provides to talented student-artists from around the world.

“It is our hope that others will join us by providing similar scholarship support for very talented students who wish to attend UNCSA,” Dr. Krasno added.

Criteria for the scholarship awards include the students’ abilities in their arts discipline, capacity to lead and motivate, extracurricular achievement, grade point average, and SAT or ACT test scores. A review committee establishes a list of semifinalists, who are interviewed for selection as finalists. Awards are made to students judged to have the best potential as artist-scholars regardless of the program in which they enroll or their state of residence. 

Biographies for the most recent recipients follow:

John “Johnny” Culwell of Anderson, S.C UNCSA School of Music (Classical Guitar)

John Culwell, a multi-talented student with a stellar academic record, is a 2012 graduate of the Montessori School of Anderson, S.C.  He studied at the South Carolina Governor’s School in 2008 (drama) and 2009 (classical guitar). He has performed with the Anderson University Guitar Ensemble, the T.L. Hanna High School Jazz Band and Combo (first guitar) and Orchestra (cello, first and second chair), the South Carolina All-County Orchestra (cello), the Greater Anderson Musical Arts Consortium – Youth Choir (bass/baritone), and the MSA Orchestra & Strings Ensemble (cello).

His drama performances include Javert in Les Miserables; Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls; Jeffrey in The Curious Savage; Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He received the Best Actor Award at SCISA State Competition in January 2010, for Just a Stage He’s Going Through, which won first place in SCISA Regional One-Act Competition.

Culwell served two high school internships, one with the S.C. Institute of Archeology & Anthropology in Columbia, S.C.; and one with music and art teachers at McCants Middle School in Anderson, S.C.

Culwell became an Eagle Scout with 4 Eagle Palms (42 merit badges) in June 2009; he is a Lifetime member of National Eagle Scout Association, has served in many leadership roles in the Boy Scouts of America. In July 2010 he received the Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow (OA), the highest honor bestowed to OA members who go beyond what is expected in leadership and service to others without seeking recognition. For his Eagle Scout Project, he planned, fund-raised and built a wheelchair-accessible tabletop garden for residents of the R.M. Campbell Veterans Administration Nursing Home, where he also led two service projects in honor of Veterans Day.

His community service includes volunteer canoeing instruction for Cub Scout Day Camp staff; delivering meals to the elderly and serving as a waiter for Meals-on-Wheels fund-raisers; walking dogs for Anderson Animal Shelter; collecting canned goods door-to-door for hurricane victims; race volunteer for Midnight Flight Runs to benefit Cancer Society; and helping distribute Toys-for-Tots, among others.

He has participated in team sports, including lettering in Men’s 400 Regional Relay Team for the T.L. Hanna High School Swim Team and in football for the JV and Varsity Carolina Titans. He received a Presidential Fitness Award in 2008 and 2009.

Austin Kellenberger of Asheville, N.C.  UNCSA School of Music (Vocal Performance)

Austin Kellenberger attended Clyde A. Erwin High School for three years, and was accepted into UNCSA for his senior year of high school where, in addition to his musical courses, he took college-level AP academic classes. At Erwin High School, he was the class president his sophomore and junior years and served as a Senior Patrol Leader in the Boy Scouts of America.  He was chosen to attend Governor’s School of North Carolina East in 2010. 

Kellenberger’s performances have included The Merry Wives of Windsor (Ensemble, 2012) with UNCSA’s A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, and at Erwin High School: Moonface Martin in Anything Goes; Cat in the Hat in Seussical, the Musical; El Gallo in The Fantasticks; and Freddy in Bye Bye Birdie. In 2011, he performed the role of Brundibar in Brundibar at the Asheville Lyric Opera.  Asheville Community Theatre roles include Noah Claypole/Pickpocket in Oliver!; Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; and Twin 1 in Peter Pan.  He performed the role of Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof at the Asheville Arts Center.

Kellenberger received a Superior Rating in the North Carolina Music Educators Association (NCMEA) Vocal Solo Adjudication; a Perfect Score in Audition at Mars Hill Choral Festival 2011; Most Outstanding Bass (2009-10 and 2010-11) and Most Improved Bass (2008-09) in Clyde A. Erwin High School Advanced Ensemble. He was chosen for N.C. All-State Mixed Choir in 2010, N.C. All-County Choir in 2009 and 2010, and N.C. All-State Men’s Choir 2009 and 2011. During his senior year at UNCSA, he received third place in Junior/Senior Beginning High School Men in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) District N.C. Auditions in Greensboro and second place in Junior/Senior Beginning High School Men in the Regional NATS Auditions in College Park, Md. 

He graduated from UNCSA with a high school diploma on May 19, 2012.

Jinsol Kim of Charlotte, N.C.  UNCSA School of Filmmaking

Jin Kim is a graduate of Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, N.C., where he has taken numerous honors classes and five AP courses.  He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Ardrey Kell High School Photography Club and is accomplished in photography, video editing, audio production and graphic design. He plays the piano, violin and bass. He also has been involved in community service.

From 2010 to 2012, he filmed and produced multiple promotional videos for Bella Love Charlotte, a nonprofit organization; filmed and produced several promotional and montage videos for church events for both adults and youth; and filmed and directed a short film, WASTED, about drugs and addiction.

Kim has experience with sound design and music production, and has produced several works including loops, tracks, effects and full feature songs. He has played the bass guitar since 2007, and is a member of a worship band. He has played violin for five years and was fourth chair in the Ardrey Kell High School Orchestra.  He studied piano for six years with his mother, who is a piano teacher.

Kim’s graphic design experience includes designing and branding the company identity for Dentec Labs, a dental lab in Charlotte; designing a number of web pages for himself and different organizations; and designing flyers, brochures, posters and invitations.

His service and leadership projects include the Charlotte “Miral” Wheat Mission, a weekly program for exceptional children with autism, Down Syndrome and other disabilities, where he helps the children with arts and crafts activities, games, assisting the students with eating at mealtime, and organizing playground activities and games to play together with children and volunteers.

At the Charlotte Rescue Mission, Kim cooked and served the main meals to the homeless at the shelter several times a year, and assisted with cleaning the shelter.

Kim serves as vice president of the Korean First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte youth group and is a member of the youth group’s student leaders council board.  In these roles, he planned youth events including retreats, fund-raisers, revivals and other activities; led worship every Sunday with the Praise Band as a bass guitarist; and served as photographer/videographer for youth group events and activities. 

During 2011-12, he worked as a jewelry and product photographer for P&Y Trading Company, creating the P&Y Trading online shopping catalog.

Evgeniya “Jenny” Tvorogova of Orlando, Fla.  UNCSA School of Design and Production (Scenic Technology)

Jenny Tvorogova is a 2012 graduate of Dr. Phillips High School (DPHS) in Orlando, a highly selective arts magnet school with an active and sophisticated production program, where she has maintained a high academic standing and strong SAT scores, in spite of English being her second language. She is a member of Thespian Troupe #4276 and the International Thespian Honor Society, of which she is a part of the officer’s team and holds the position of Technical Director of both.

Tvorogova moved with her mother from their home in Russia to the United States when she was eight years old. She overcame many obstacles, deciding to appreciate everything the experience had given her: independence, reliance on self, and survival skills. 

She had much technical theatre experience at DPHS, including technical director for Troupe 4276 Officer Team (2011-12); To Kill a Mockingbird; Hairspray; and Twelfth Night. She served as stage manager for Moon Over Buffalo, Dance Expose 2011, and Bus Stop. She served as sound board operator at the Lehrer Dance Academy for Lehrer Dance Recital 2011, at Deke Warner Company for the Deke Bodybuilding Competition, and at ACT III Acting Studio for 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She was fly system operator for Platinum Dance: 3rd Annual Dance Recital (Platinum Dance Academy) and NuLook Dance Recital (NuLook Dance Academy). She also served as special effects coordinator for American Voices and Prism Concert at DPHS. 

Also at DPHS, Tvorogova performed the roles of Stage Manager/Vershinin in Anton in Show Business, Passion in Imagination, Ethel Peas in Thoroughly Modern Millie and as a Townsperson in White Christmas. 

Tvorogova has experience with a wide array of tools, machinery and equipment, including drills, finishing nailers, radial arm saws, contractor table saws, orbital jigsaws, metal saws, band saws, routers, metal grinders, buffers, welders, lighting control consoles, snow machines, fog machines, haze machines, stilts and AutoCAD. 

Her work experience includes serving as a Park Service attendant since June 2011 at Universal Studios’ Island of Adventure, a summer camp counselor at Garden Theatre in summer 2011, and a sound board operator at Church of Christ from May 2010 to June 2011. 

Tvorogova has contributed to her community through volunteering with Relay For Life, the Salvation Army, and Autism Outreach, and participating in educational programs through which she shares her love of theatre with elementary and middle school students.

Kenan Excellence Award Scholar alumni include: Joshua Conyers, who won the Metropolitan Opera National Council State Auditions in Indiana in 2011 and who made his New York debut (2011) as Don Giovanni to rave reviews; Vanessa Hernandez, who made her professional New York debut in 2010 in the rarely performed 1940 Cole Porter musical Panama Hattie; Justin Melvin, who has danced with Mark Morris Dance Group and currently dances with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and Keigwin + Company; Alex Moratto, who received the DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award as one of two Best Latino Student Filmmakers (Eastern Region, 2010), and who won a $10,000 N.C. Arts Council Award in 2011 and had a film accepted into the 2012 RiverRun International Film Festival; Vera Herbert, who is a writer’s assistant/script coordinator for MTV’s Awkward and who co-wrote an upcoming episode; Brooke Robbins, who was chosen as a Kennedy Center Kenan Fellow; Valerie Walz, who is an assistant lighting designer for the Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Leigh-Ann Friedel, who graduated in May has been awarded a Kenan Fellowship at the Kennedy Center.