Laura Smith is well known around Ewell Hall. To say that she is a participant in the Department of Music is a remarkable understatement: she has been a 4-year member of the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble (of which she is Assistant Director), the Appalachian Ensemble, and the William and Mary Chorus.
She also teaches piano, conducts the College Choir at Bruton Parish Church, and last year released a CD of Appalachian Music with her group Hunt Like A Dog. And these are just her musical activities. She is also a member of Mortar Board (a college service organization), has tutored at the Rita Welsh Adult Literacy Center, and has volunteered at the Williamsburg Respite House for Mentally and Physically Disabled Adults. During Spring Break '07, she supervised a mission trip of 18 W&M students to the Dominican Republic. In her spare time, she has been working on a double major in Anthropology and Music (maintaining a 4.0 GPA). She will graduate in May 2007.
At the college's Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony last fall, Smith was surprised to discover that she had been selected as the recipient of the prestigious Ann Callahan Chappell Award. This honor, which carries a generous financial gift, is bestowed upon the most outstanding PBK initiate in the fall. Smith had no idea that the award presentation was coming. "I was completely overwhelmed and surprised,” she reported later. Happily, her parents were also at the ceremony.
Last summer, Smith spent two months in Siracusa, Sicily, taking classes at the Mediterranean Center for Art and Science. Prior to that she had traveled to southern Spain to study Magrebi music (a North African musical style that incorporates elements of Arabic and European cultures) in preparation for her Honors Thesis. This research was made possible by funding she received from various sources, including the Batten Scholarship for Pre-Honors Research and a Charles Center Scholarship for International Research. Her project took her to Toledo, Spain, where she met and worked with the Director of Mestizarte—a program with an educational bent that promotes different aspects of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Flamenco musics. Smith has been invited back to Toledo after graduation to work as the Assistant to the Director of the program. The decision to return was made much easier by the recent news that she has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. This will allow her both to return to Toledo to work with Mestizarte and to delve further into her research on Magrebi music. Her future plans involve a possible association with the Episcopal Young Adult Service Corps or perhaps graduate work in Mediterranean Studies.