Senior Vander Ploeg wins Marshall Scholarship

Sarah Vander Ploeg

Sarah Vander Ploeg Photo: John Jameson

Princeton senior Sarah Vander Ploeg -- a Woodrow Wilson School major who also is an accomplished lyric soprano and violist -- is one of 37 American college students awarded 2008 Marshall Scholarships.

The Marshall Scholarship covers the cost of living and studying at a British university of the recipient's choice for two or three years. Vander Ploeg will use her award to obtain a master's degree in vocal studies at the Royal College of Music in London. She also plans to work on outreach programs with an arts policy group there.

Vander Ploeg, who is from North Haledon, N.J., hopes to become a professional opera performer as well as serve as an advocate for the arts.

"Although it may sound somewhat clichéd, I truly believe in the power of the arts to transform people's lives," Vander Ploeg said. "Arts are valuable in the public's life, and thus deserve support from policymakers who actually understand the arts. My life's ambition is to someday become an advocate for the arts as a professional performer, and to lead in the arts community perhaps in a similar way to Beverly Sills' outreach and management leadership in New York."

Vander Ploeg, who is a candidate for a certificate in musical performance, received the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence in 2005 and the Ferris Prize for Journalism, which recognized the best paper in a journalism seminar, in 2006.

A soloist in the Princeton University Chapel Choir, Vander Ploeg also is a member of the Chamber Choir. She has performed many operatic and musical roles, including the title role in Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience" and a lead role in Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro."
She also plays the viola as a member of the Princeton University Orchestra and was one of the winners of its 2007 Concerto Competition. She was the principal viola in last April's world premiere of Prokofiev's "Boris Godunov" on campus and has performed on tours in Portugal and Austria.

"Students like Sarah are what makes teaching at Princeton such an unusual privilege," said Stan Katz, a lecturer with the rank of professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "She is an academic all-star, she is writing a fascinating senior thesis on the impact of the law of intellectual property on the popular music scene in South Africa and she is also (in her 'spare' time) a violist in the University Orchestra and a very promising lyric soprano. In other words, she is an amazingly complete person -- and one of the most engaging, agreeable students I have ever worked with."

The Marshall Scholarships were established in 1953 as a British gesture to the United States for the assistance received after World War II under the Marshall Plan. Financed by the British government, the scholarships are awarded to American students who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership potential.