Sarah Fox named WKU valedictorian

Posted on May 13, 2015 11:05 PM

Only a few days after she was selected to study overseas as a Fulbright Scholar, Russellville High School graduate Sarah Fox has been named Western Kentucky’s Ogden Scholar, the equivalent of valedictorian of the university. The following is a news release from the university:

Two academic chart-toppers from the Department of Music will be honored this weekend with WKU’s highest graduation awards.

Alyna Bloecher, a master’s student from Bowling Green, will receive the John D. Minton Award for outstanding graduate student on Friday night, while Sarah Fox, a music and history major and Honors College student from Russellville, will receive the Ogden Foundation Scholar Award on Saturday night .

Bloecher and Fox are outstanding musicians and are putting their talents to use on campus, in the community and around the world.

Bloecher, a violinist, teacher and scholar, has performed throughout the United States, on campus and in China, but she has a passion for teaching young children as an instructor in the WKU Pre-College Strings Program.

Fox, an organist, pianist and vocalist, also has performed in the region and traveled around the globe, but her goal is to harness music’s potential to mitigate the effects of poverty in the U.S. and abroad.

“The music department at any university tends to be visible in the community and on campus with band and concert performances, but it’s wonderful to see two of our students get recognized by WKU for their academic excellence and their service to the community,” said Dr. Scott Harris, head of the Department of Music. “Musicians and artists can, in fact, change the world.”

Dr. David Lee, dean of the Potter College of Arts & Letters, agreed. “This recognition is a reflection of talent on their part, effective teaching by our faculty and a strong curriculum that has prepared them well,” Dr. Lee said. “It speaks very clearly about the quality of the program.”

WKU is one of 30 schools in the nation with accredited programs in art, music, theatre and dance programs. “Arts are an important part of WKU,” Dr. Lee said. “The fact that both Sarah and Alyna have achieved at this level is one more powerful indicator of how important the arts are on this campus.”

Fox and Bloecher credit their success to faculty in music and other departments.

“I think this is reflective of the kind of professors and leadership that we have in the Music Department,” Bloecher said. “Our teachers shape us and guide us toward these accomplishments. I am very glad that I chose to attend WKU where I have had the pleasure of working with passionate instructors whose efforts have made things like this possible for their students.”

Having two music students recognized this week is exciting, Fox said, “because it points to a potential for integration between all the subjects. I don’t think it’s specifically about compartmentalizing music or math but if we can get the same recognition that this is important then we can begin to work together and that’s something I’m really hoping throughout my graduate career and into my career that I can work with people from different disciplines. I’m really interested in working with neuroscientists about what is going on in children’s brains as they’re listening to music as they’re making music can that help them write better can that help them read better. And so this recognition that music is important is just that one step further in that collaborative effort.”

Fox, the daughter of Susan Fox and Brian Fox, has received a scholarship from the U.S. Fulbright Student Program and will begin her master’s degree in music, choral conducting pathway, this fall at the University of Birmingham in England. She also will serve an internship with Dr. Simon Halsey, director of the London Symphony Chorus and Berlin Radio Choir.

Fox is a graduate of Russellville High School; has directed the WKU TrebleMakers; performed with WKU Chorale and WKU Opera; was recognized as Potter College’s outstanding history student in 2015 and outstanding music student in 2014; received a US-UK Undergraduate Fulbright Award to Newcastle University in 2012; has traveled to Cuba and Austria on study abroad programs; has served as counselor and teacher for The Center for Gifted Studies’ Super Saturdays program; and was an intern for state Sen. Mike Wilson.

“It is at WKU that I have discovered my capacity to help others because others have helped me,” Fox said. “My professors and teachers have invested in me and I want to return that investment in the students I teach around the world. Most importantly, I will strive to continue the cycle of serving I learned through experience at WKU.”

Bloecher, the wife of Joshua Bloecher and daughter of Judy Atkinson, is the recipient of the 2015 American String Teachers Association George Bornoff Memorial Scholarship, the 2015 WKU “Hats off to Women” Graduate Student Award and the 2012-2013 Jim and Carolyn Fern Music Education Scholarship.

Bloecher, who received her bachelor’s degree from WKU, is a graduate of West Valley High School in Fairbanks, Alaska; has collaborated with WKU faculty in chamber music recitals; and was featured as a soloist for the Symphony at WKU’s 2012 China Tour. As an instructor in the WKU Pre-College Strings Program, she teaches violin and viola to children ages 4 to 18 and also arranges performances at nursing homes, churches, hospitals, and community events.

“My time at WKU has also given me a vision for the future in which I want to continue learning and growing as long as I am able,” Bloecher said. “The WKU music professors and the WKU environment have inspired me to be the best that I can be in whatever I do.”

Bloecher noted that Dr. Ching-Yi Lin has served as her mentor for the past five years and has been instrumental in encouraging her to pursue her goals. “One specific project that I would like to highlight is the Scale Method Book that Dr. Lin has been helping me to write,” she said. “A draft was composed for my capstone project and we have been collaborating on plans for using it with our students in the Pre-College Program in future years. The experience of writing this book has been — and continues to be — inspiring and a great challenge.”

In addition to serving the needs of young people, Bloecher and Fox are role models for current and prospective WKU students, according to Dr. Lee and Dr. Harris.

“It’s wonderful to be able to say to prospective students and their parents that they will have the opportunity to reach this level of achievement in the Potter College of Arts & Letters,” Dr. Lee said. “This kind of success is important to encourage other students to be here.”


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