Swensen Scholarship (Est. 2020)

The Swensen Scholarship, given in honor of David Swensen PH.D. ’80, is awarded to Yale undergraduates who excel both in the classroom and in athletics or the arts. Recipients, known as the Swensen Scholars, are awarded funding to practice the highest caliber training in their selected field. Swensen Scholars will become a cohort of achievers recognized as the epitome of Yale and the importance of curricular and extra-curricular excellence as integral parts of a liberal arts education.


Merritt Barnwell, Saybrook College

Merritt is an exemplary community member and art student, who has grown so much over the past few years. She has a demonstrated seriousness of purpose and ambition, and augments her art practice with a double major in History of Art. I have found that it is often the double majors that seem to work the hardest and somehow find more hours in a day. Merritt has always been a stand-out student in the Art major and has worked harder and more deeply than many of her peers. She took a deep dive into painting as a medium, but then was incredibly open to what she could learn from exploring other media, as the major is designed to encourage, and found that making work in sculpture and printmaking fed her practice and allowed her to communicate ideas in new and exciting ways. – Lisa Kereszi, MFA 2000, Senior Critic, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Art, Yale School of Art


Vanessa Copeland, Pauli Murray College

Put simply, there is just something about Vanessa’s presence onstage. Her quiet intensity immediately draws all present into the imaginative world of the play. During a rehearsal with her and an assistant director last semester I was moved to tell them both that Vanessa doesn’t even need a theater space to rehearse or perform in—she makes theater happen wherever she is the very moment she chooses to inhabit a character. Her work has that kind of crystal clarity to it, so rare in any performer let alone one so young. Her performances stand out for their maturity and subtlety. - Shilarna Stokes, Lecturer, Theater and Performance Studies