Alumni Receive Fulbright Awards to Finland and Argentina
Devina Boughton B.M. ’21 and Andrew Skinner M.M. ’20 have received Fulbright U.S. Student Program Open Study/Research Awards from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. They are the first Berklee alumni to receive a Fulbright in over a decade, with the previous award given to Liz Maxfield B.M. ’09 in 2009. Boughton studied composition and performance at Berklee College of Music, graduating in May, and Skinner completed Berklee Valencia's Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation program in 2020.
As Fulbright participants, Boughton and Skinner will study, perform, and conduct research abroad for the 2021–2022 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected in an open, merit-based competition that considers leadership potential, academic achievement, and record of service. As Fulbright alumni, their careers are enriched by joining a network of thousands of esteemed alumni, many of whom are leaders in their fields. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 39 who have served as a head of state or government.
Boughton, a native of Portland, Oregon, will be studying global music at the renowned Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. They will be exploring their Finnish heritage in a masters-level self-directed study for two semesters centered around The Kalevala, a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled from Finnish oral folklore and mythology about the creation of the Earth. It is regarded as the national epic of Finland, and one of the most significant works of Finnish literature embedded in the Finnish national identity. The work has been heralded internationally throughout history, and partly influenced J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth mythology.
While at Berklee, Boughton was a member of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, where they drew inspiration from studying under Kris Davis, associate program director of creative development. “I am incredibly honored and excited to receive this grant from Fulbright Finland, and to be able to study at the Sibelius Academy this fall,” said Boughton. “As part of my research goals, I will create a musical composition comparing sections of the Finnish epic poem The Kalevala to textile traditions from the regions in which those stories were collected. Connection, versatility, and collaboration will strengthen the music industry in a time where the arts need more support than ever.” Boughton hopes this experience will serve towards a career that includes traveling, composing music, and teaching.
Skinner, a native of Clayton, Georgia, will be recording the life stories of the surviving first generation of Nuevo Cancionero folk musicians in Mendoza, Argentina. Nuevo Cancionero is an artistic movement that reinvents traditional Argentinian folk music to eliminate cultural boundaries, address social issues, and develop musical stories that relate to the lives of ordinary Argentinians. This music, known for its poetic lyrics, has played an important role in the country’s conscience throughout the past 60 years of social and political events. Skinner will create an academic article as well as a series of podcasts tying together the musicians' stories into one narrative. Skinner also plans to collaborate with Nuevo Cancionero musicians, using his audio engineering background to continue to advance their distinct musical style.
“I am honored to receive this grant and to be able to record these important stories. As an audio engineer and musician who has long admired Argentinian folk music, I am excited to be immersed in its musical community and engage in cultural exchange,” said Skinner. “I have been working towards this project, and reapplying for funding for it, for three years, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to pursue the research on the ground in Mendoza for nine months.”
“I am so proud of both Devina and Andrew for receiving Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards,” said Berklee President Roger H. Brown. “It is wonderful to see our graduates dedicating their creativity and resources to such important projects, and I am thrilled the Fulbright program has recognized them for all their hard work. I wish them the best of luck as they continue to research, create, and learn in the upcoming year. Berklee’s strength in educating world-class performers, dancers, composers, and actors sometimes overshadows the academic excellence we have worked hard to create—two Fulbright Scholars affirms this hard work.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered at Berklee through the Career Center in partnership with Study Abroad and International Student Services. For more information on Fulbright awards, as well as other national scholarship opportunities at Berklee, visit the Career Center’s website.