UNC Marshalls now total 20! Two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumnae are recipients of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship

Two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumnae are recipients of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which funds graduate studies in any field at up to two United Kingdom institutions.

Anne Sutton, a 2018 graduate with degrees in music and geography, and Olivia Holder, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 2018, are Carolina’s 19th and 20th Marshall Scholars.

The Marshall Scholarship averages about £35,000 a year, which covers university fees, cost of living expenses, annual book grants, thesis grant, research and daily travel grants and fares to and from the United States.

Founded in 1953, the scholarship finances the opportunity for young Americans of outstanding ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. The Marshall Scholarships honor the ideals of the Marshall Plan and are named after U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall. Applicants who “have the potential to excel as scholars, leaders and contributors to improved U.K.-U.S. understanding” are highly desired by Marshall Scholarships selectors.
“We are proud of Anne and Olivia’s incredible achievement as they join the 18 other Carolina Marshall Scholars,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. “This prestigious honor is a testament to their hard work and dedication, and I congratulate them on this opportunity to pursue excellence in their research and scholarship in the United Kingdom. They will be wonderful ambassadors for Carolina as Marshall scholars.”

Returning to research

After a year as a professional church choir singer and music teacher, Sutton will return to the library stacks and dig into the history of European music.

The Marshall Scholarship will provide Sutton an opportunity to return to the United Kingdom to continue research that she initially started as a Robinson Fellow while she was at Carolina.

Sutton traveled to England in 2017 to research how female singers affected composition, specifically their role in the musical zeitgeist during the Baroque era in the early 1700s.

“There’s a huge wealth of music and early manuscripts, particularly at the British Library,” said Sutton, who grew up in Burlington, Vermont. “To be able to be there and see all the markings on the page is really a unique experience.”

Sutton’s undergraduate research ultimately led her to create a modern edition of a baroque score and perform it for a U.S. audience for the first time.

Now, as a Marshall Scholar, she will be able to take her research to a deeper level as a master’s student.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “Getting funding to study music is so rare, and it feels incredible to have.”

The research path that ultimately landed her the scholarship began as an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill. Though she was always interested in Baroque music, Carolina professors helped her turn her passion into research.

“It was my professors at Carolina who really fostered that and gave me the opportunity to expand on that interest,” said Sutton, who was a member of various Carolina music ensembles include UNC Opera, Carolina Choir and Charanga Carolina.

Her geography coursework, Sutton said, also helped her develop a new mindset that gives her a unique approach to studying music – one that could bring a new perspective to Baroque music.

“Studying geography, which is inherently interdisciplinary, utilizes so many different lenses to understand different phenomena,” she said. “I wanted to take that same understanding of interconnectedness and the value of an interdisciplinary approach to not only think about the music I was performing as a performer, but as a researcher, as a historian.”

From China to the U.K.

Holder arrived at her Marshall Scholarship interview jetlagged and exhausted after several overnight flights from Beijing, China, where she is currently a Yenching Scholar. The transcontinental journey left her in such a haze that she can’t recall now what she talked about during her scholarship interview.

But she remembers getting the call from the consulate the next day and finding out that she had been named a Marshall Scholar.

“I was so happy,” said Holder, who is in her second year of a master’s program at the Yenching Academy of Peking University in China. “It was worth the jetlag.”

As a Marshall Scholar, Holder will study art and museum studies — interests she traces back to Carolina, where she discovered the role museums can play in bridging cultures.

Holder graduated from Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in history, concentrating on modern European history, with minors in Chinese and comparative literature.

At Carolina, Holder curated an exhibit of ceramics and prints. Her goal was to showcase how tea connects communities in China, Great Britain, the Caribbean and nations across the world.

“I love thinking about museums’ role in international relations and diplomacy,” said Holder, a native of Greenville, North Carolina. “They can cross national borders and bring people together across oceans.”

Now focusing her attention on U.S.-U.K. relations, Holder hopes the Marshall Scholarship will set her up for a lifetime of connecting with others through scholarship and art.

“I am excited for the theory and the studies, but I’m also really excited about the communities that we will form,” she said. “I’m sure each Marshall Scholar will find a really rich academic environment at their respective universities, so we’re sure to find wonderful communities and lifelong friends.”