Published: Nov. 2, 2022 By

Avedis EscandonAs a part of its campus-wide Inclusive Excellence initiative, the University of Colorado Boulder Graduate School provides awards for underrepresented students. Recently, the Genevieve McVey Wisner Memorial Scholarship was established specifically for underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the College of Music. 

“Underrepresented students include those from geographic areas and socioeconomic backgrounds who are historically underrepresented in the college, as well as students who are the first generation in their family to attend college and students who have faced unusual adversity,” says Matthew Roeder, associate dean for undergraduate studies and enrollment management.

Avedis Escandon—pursuing a master’s in viola performance—is the first recipient of the Genevieve McVey Wisner Memorial Scholarship. “Receiving this scholarship is incredibly meaningful to me. I’m happy to be representing many underrepresented and diverse backgrounds,” he says. 

“To me, diversity means access and equity for differing perspectives and walks of life outside of what is considered ‘traditional.’ One of my life goals in classical music is to help subvert traditional expectations so that we can have greater diversity of thought and performance.”

Moving to Boulder from Columbus, Ohio, Escandon chose to study at the College of Music because of the campus location and culture. “It’s really important for me to be in a place that inspires me with people who push me to do and be better. [...] I was also inspired by my amazing teacher Erika Eckert to attend CU Boulder. She’s incredibly dedicated to all of her students achieving their goals and I have so much respect for her.”

Escandon emphasizes the importance of serving as an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)—not just in music, but in all walks of life. “The biggest way that I advocate is by speaking my mind on important matters, as well as being open to having difficult conversations with people who aren’t like me to achieve a better understanding of each other. For me, understanding each other is the key to moving forward as a society.”

His advice for others to elevate these values is to “always try to be open-minded and willing to have a conversation, even when people say or do things that you might not understand or like. Just like with music, major changes don’t happen overnight—change requires small bits of effort over time, so we cannot discount the impact of a meaningful dialogue.”