When UNC graduate Ning Lee was a high school senior in Singapore, she hadn’t planned to major in music in college.
“I loved music, but the reality was the options for music professionals in either performance, instruction and even management were fairly limited. Even arts administration is a challenging niche to try and establish oneself,” Ning says.
It was kind of a shame because Ning already was an accomplished violinist. She was concertmaster of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra and a first violinist in the Asian Youth Orchestra based in Hong Kong, with which she performed throughout Asia and Europe. She has diplomas in violin from Trinity College of Music and the Royal Schools of Music in London, and she has won certificates in the Asian Youth Music national and international competitions.
Ning had applied to Carolina and some other schools but didn’t consider attending UNC until the late Richard Luby, then professor and associate chair for performance in UNC’s music department, encouraged her to apply for the newly established Kenan Music Scholarships. The scholarships cover tuition, fees, room, board and lessons through a $4 million endowment created by the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust of Chapel Hill. When Ning came to campus to audition, she was hooked. Selected as a Kenan Music Scholar, she had no difficulty choosing UNC.
“I loved that Carolina was not a music-centric university and that it offered a broader and more holistic educational opportunity for me,” she said. “It has been the best of both worlds because I have studied with renowned musicians and enjoyed the flexibility to pursue many avenues of scholarship. You can’t get that at a conservatory.”
What’s more, Ning said the whole college environment she found in Chapel Hill inspired her to explore classes in corporate finance, Middle Eastern studies and religion as well as volunteer with the student volunteer APPLES program at the Campus Y and spend a semester abroad with UNC’s Honors Semester in London.
Ning graduated in 2013, and she is taking her degree in finance and music to Dallas, where she will serve as a financial analyst for American Airlines.
Published May 16, 2013.