• Leah Claiborne

    University of Michigan, Class of 2015
    Doctor of Musical Arts, Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy

    Leah Claiborne, a native of Frederick, Maryland, began playing the piano at a young age, and classical piano quickly became her passion. She successfully combines sensitivity and intellect to captivate her audiences – and she has the awards to show for it! Leah began competing at a young age and was the state winner of the Music Teachers National Association in 2004, 2005, and 2007; the winner of the 2007 Washington Post Talent Scholarship Competition; third prize winner in the Viola Hartman Piano Competition; and first prize winner in the Maryland Concerto, Duet, Duo, and Quartet Competitions – all before enrolling in college.

    Currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts, Leah’s talent has not only won her recognition but also the scholarships she’s needed to follow her dreams. As a scholarship student studying under Dr. Marc Silverman at the Manhattan School of Music, Leah discovered a love for teaching; served as president of the student council and the Pan African Student Union; studied abroad at the International Music Academy of Plzen in the Czech Republic; and upon graduation was awarded the Josephine C. Whitford Award for “contributing exceptional personal qualities which contributed significantly to the enrichment of the spirit of the school.”

    Leah was the sole pianist accepted to the University of Michigan’s dual Master’s degree program in piano performance and piano pedagogy and earned her degree in 2014; her teachers included Dr. Arthur Greene and Dr. John Ellis. She has studied with pianists across the country, including masters classes with Leon Fleisher, and has performed in Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, and throughout the United States. Leah is currently vice president of University of Michigan’s MTNA Piano Pedagogy chapter and president of the Multicultural Arts Council.

    She received scholarships from the Stanley L. and Dorothy Lobe Cahn Grant Fund and interest free-loans from the Sophie Van Leer Katz Memorial Fund.


  • Pablo Hernandez

    Towson University, Class of 2015
    Bachelor of Music, Trombone

    Pablo Hernandez discovered his talent for understanding and playing music his sophomore year in high school and immediately became driven to be the best student and musician he could be. He dove right in: practicing the piano and trombone for hours, joining his high school’s jazz and concert ensembles as 1st Chair and Principle Trombone respectively, played in several school musicals, and volunteered as keyboardist and music director for two churches in Harford County. His burgeoning talent was confirmed when he won the James Hubert Blake High School Award and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for his performances his senior year in high school and was selected as 1st Chair, Trombone for the All Harford County Jazz Ensemble in 2010 and 2011.

    On high school graduation, Pablo began turning his love of music into his career by earning his Associate of Science in Music from Harford Community College, then enrolling in the Bachelor of Music program at Towson University. He is 3rd Chair in the Jazz Orchestra and 1st Chair in the Latin Ensemble, both at Towson University. When he is not playing trombone, he is on the field for the semi-professional baseball team in Harford County or practicing one of the many instruments he has picked up: piano, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, and trumpet.

    He describes his style as improvisational and plays contemporary, Latin, and jazz adding his own twist to whatever he plays. Following college graduation, Pablo plans to pursue a Master of Music degree and, ultimately, share his passion for music as a professional performer with a live band and as a music teacher.

    Pablo received the Richard Louis Caplan Memorial Scholarship Endowment for the Study of Music Performance.


  • Lenore Koenig

    University of Maryland College Park, Class of 2015
    Bachelor of Science, Astronomy and Physics

    Inspired by her feeling of wonder when she looks up at the stars and the hope for humanity’s future on other worlds, Lenore Koenig will graduate from the University of Maryland College Park in 2015 with a double major in Astronomy and Physics. Lenore performs research in quantum information theory with Dr. Christopher Monroe at the Joint Quantum Institute and is a teaching assistant in the Astronomy Department for the fourth semester. She hopes to take her quantitative skills into private industry – either in nuclear or optical engineering – post-graduation.

    On her quest to detect planets with atmospheres similar to Earth’s, Lenore has created computer models using Hubble data which help astronomers determine the behavior and characteristics of water in the atmospheres of planets that orbit other stars and assisted in designing, coding, and beta-testing a new open-source software that will help students and under-resourced observatories in poor-seeing locations collect and process data to better understand how planets and solar systems once formed and currently behave.

    In her spare time, Lenore volunteers with the Women in Physics, helping them provide useful academic, career, and social programs for undergraduate and graduate women in the physics department. She also enjoys travel, learning new languages, crafts, and cooking.

    Lenore received scholarships from the Joan & Richard Lessans Scholarship Fund.


  • David Lai

    University of Maryland College Park, Class of 2012
    Bachelor of Science, Bioengineering

    Voted “most likely to be a future scientist” in third grade, David Lai now shares his love of science with his students at Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham, Maryland. His goal in the classroom is to provide quality research-based science instruction and opportunities for his students to explore science as a career. Outside the classroom, David is his school’s Green Team Advisor, serves on the Principal’s Advisory Committee, and is the STEM Fair Coordinator. David has been named Rookie Teacher of the Year (2013) and Teacher of the Year (2014). He was recognized in 2013 as a finalist in Governor Martin O’Malley’s #MD Forward Contest for his contributions to Maryland’s forward trajectory.

    In high school at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, David had a unique opportunity to conduct research at the Carnegie Institution Department of Embryology, an experience that solidified his future in science. David went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Bioengineering and a Citation in Environmental Studies. His undergraduate research measured human respiratory resistance and the effects of various environmental factors and looked into using 3D motion sensors to improve patient-therapist interactions for range of motion quantification. On graduation, David accepted an offer to join Teach for America and is now pursuing a Masters of Science Degree in Education at Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity and Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity.

    David received the Baltimore Polytechnic Alumni Scholarship.


  • Aaron Parker

    University of Maryland, Carey School of Law, Class of 2014
    Juris Doctorate, Administrative Law

    Aaron Parker’s desire to help under-served people led him – somewhat indirectly – to a career in law. Aaron grew up in inner city Baltimore, in a neighborhood where graduation from high school was not a given. Motivated by his family and teachers, he graduated high school and became the first in his family to attend college and earn a degree.

    At the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, he studied Psychology with the plan to become a social worker. While still enrolled in college, Aaron was hired as a Rehabilitation Counselor at Humanim, where he worked hands-on with individuals with traumatic brain injuries providing services including self-sufficiency, budgeting and tutoring. Also while in college, he mentored at-risk Baltimore City youth through Higher Achievement. He found both his work and volunteer service rewarding, yet he felt limited in what he could do to help.

    That’s when he decided to pursue his law degree, starting at the University of Tulsa and transferring to University of Maryland to complete his degree in May 2014. As a law student, Aaron held a wide range of internships and clerk positions exposing him to issues such as search and seizure law, guardians’ abilities to voluntarily commit their wards to psychiatric facilities, dying declaration statements, and transfer of juveniles to Juvenile Court. He continued mentoring youth, but through Yo! Baltimore, a court-ordered program for youth offenders, and Mentoring Male Teens in the Hood.

    Now a law clerk for Judge Charles J. Peters in the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, Aaron hopes to inspire inner city youth to set and achieve big goals for themselves – just as he has.

    Aaron received scholarships from the Isaac & Catharine S. Hecht Endowed Scholarship Fund and interest-free loans from the Gerson B. Mehlman Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Elinor & Samuel Thaviu Scholarship Fund, and Dr. Stuart & Eleanor Yupsa Scholarship Fund.


  • Jennifer Volmer

    New York University, Class of 2008
    Master of Arts, Viola Performance and Performing Arts Administration

    Jennifer Volmer’s music education began at age five when she received a sizable birthday present: a piano. After years of piano lessons, she picked up the viola – a string instrument tuned a fifth below the violin and an octave above the cello – and it was music to her ears!

    She started her serious pursuit of a music career at age fifteen when she enrolled in the Interlochen Arts Academy. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Music in viola performance at the Eastman School of Music where she was an active participant in Music for All, a two-time winner of Eastman’s Chamber Music Honors Recital, and recipient of Eastman’s Excellence in Chamber Music Award. At New York University, she designed an individualized graduate program in Music Performance and Performing Arts Administration, concentrating on non-profit development and management while continuing solo, chamber, and orchestral performance as a principal violist.

    With her Master’s in hand, Jennifer began her career in public relations, holding positions at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Jay K. Hoffman & Associates, and Christina Jensen PR. She currently manages social marketing campaigns using influencer outreach for eBay, WeightWatchers, and other brands. She plays in several New York City orchestras and maintains a private studio for piano instruction. Chamber music has remained her passion, prompting her to found Amara Strings, LLC, an event string quartet in demand throughout New York.

    Jennifer received scholarships from the Joan & Richard Lessans Scholarship Fund and the Muriel & Irving Rubin Memorial Fund as well as interest-free loans from the Philmore Baron Scholarship Fund, the Leo V. Berger Scholarship Fund, the Therese S. Hutzler Scholarship Fund, the Sophie Van Leer Katz Memorial Fund, and the Network 2000 Scholarship Fund for Emerging Women Leaders.


  • Courtney Wersick

    Towson University, Class of 2015
    Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance

    Since the age of ten, the thing that has made Courtney Wersick happiest is performing. The moment she stepped onto a little stage in the gymnasium of her elementary school as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, she knew she would not be happy in any other career.

    From her first public performance as Dorothy, Courtney had solo performances as variety of characters on bigger stages: Demeter in CATS at the Laurel Mill Playhouse, Patti Simcox in Grease at Bowie High School, and Papagena in The Magic Flute and Butterfly’s Wife in Solomon and Balkis at Towson University among others. Her peformances also include ensembles such as the chorus for HMS Pinafore at the Young Victorian Theater Company, treble in the women’s choir at Towson University, and madrigal in the chamber choir at Bowie High School.

    Courtney won first place in Classical Music and third place in Popular Music at the 2007 Maryland State Music Teacher Association Spring Voice Festival. She was featured in the United States Achievement Academy Yearbook in 2009, performed at Carnegie Hall in 2011 as part of the American High School Honors Performance Series, and performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2014 through the National Festival Chorus with Manhattan Concert Productions. And, these are just a few of the honors she has received for her vocal performances!

    Now in her senior year at Towson University studying Vocal Performance, Courtney hopes to change the reputation of classical music for the younger generation. She wants to introduce this genre of music to those who may have written it off and showcase its beauty – and to perform around the world sharing music and her voice with others.

    Courtney received scholarships from the Richard Louis Caplan Memorial Scholarship Endowment for the Study of Music Performance.