Jennifer Jones Hundley Graduate Scholarship

v c u arts students in class

Jennifer Jones Hundley Graduate Student Scholarship

This endowed scholarship was created by the parents of Jenny Jones Hundley (1986 BFA in Performance, 2005 MFA in Pedagogy with Performance Emphasis). In an interesting note, her parents chose her first name because they were fans of the famed movie star, Jennifer Jones.

The scholarship was established in 2005 for graduate students. Her father, William O.  Jones, recognized that the students juggle a lot of responsibilities and need support. He saw that was the case with Jenny, who was raising two children with her husband Paul, while attending graduate school and teaching full time drama at the Collegiate School, where she recently celebrated her 30 year anniversary.

Recalling that she had $900 worth of books in graduate school, Jenny muses, “To help offset any kind of cost is a gift. My big hope is that it can counteract a level of stress for books or offer a cushion or buffer.”

Jenny (left) with recipient Lisa Hermanson

Here are comments from three of the ten recipients:

Erica Hughes, MFA in Pedagogy in Stage Voice and Speech 2015

In the summer between her first and second year at VCU, Erica found out that the President of Estill Voice International was teaching a workshop in Pittsburg (also Erica’s hometown). “The money from the scholarship helped me afford to visit home and attend this workshop. It was a fantastic experience and I’m thinking about getting certified in the method.”

Currently, Erica has been “really lucky to get entrenched in the Richmond theatre community, as one of a handful of dialect coaches.” In addition to coaching on various local productions, she’s also taught at several area colleges.

Lisa Hermanson, MFA in Pedagogy 2019

Lisa received the scholarship two years in a row. About its benefit, she says, “Financially, it was a great blessing because it meant that I didn’t have to worry as much about incidental expenses for supplies and transportation. It was a beautiful stopgap for the unexpected.”

Lisa was hired as a visiting professor immediately after grad school teaching Musical Theatre and Theatre History at New Mexico State University. She was just named an Assistant Professor on tenure track!

Raja Benz, current third year candidate

“This money bought me that little extra leeway to be able to take freelance jobs like the directing job I just finished at Richmond Triangle Players. The scholarship functions as another gig and allows me to be in the professional world. I manage a bar and also work as an intimacy director (primarily by Zoom these days) so to get a little flexibility built into my schedule is endlessly useful.” Raja receives her MFA in December.

The show she directed this summer at RTP was The Pink Unicorn (read what our own alum/critic said).

Compiled by Liz Hopper, professor emeritus, and Jerry Williams (BFA ’71) for the August 2021 Theatre Alumni Newsletter.