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Wesleyan University Establishes 'Hamilton' Scholarship

Evan Agostini

The hip-hop musical “Hamilton” has won 11 Tony Awards, grossed millions of dollars and reintroduced Americans to a Founding Father. And now, creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Director Thomas Kail, alumni of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, have inspired a scholarship at their alma mater.

Starting next fall, one graduating high school student will get a four-year free ride on the basis of a great piece of creative writing. That could be theater, music, fiction, poetry—really, anything. Wesleyan President Michael Roth says it just has to have the same creative spirit and respect for learning that made "Hamilton" a hit.

“What you see in 'Hamilton' is that you have appreciation for history, for tradition, and for the ways in which really understanding history and tradition can spur innovation. They realize that understanding the past is a great way to make changes in the present.”

The scholarship is called the Hamilton Prize for Creativity. Roth says Wesleyan wanted to recognize the huge mark Miranda and Kail have already left on American culture since “Hamilton” opened last year.

“We have lots of writers and artists who come through Wesleyan and do great things, but “Hamilton” is really special. It’s not everybody who can turn an 800-page biography into a hip-hop opera.”

Roth says Miranda and Kail will be part of the committee that picks the scholarship winner. He says they’ve both stayed close with Wesleyan since the show’s success. Earlier this year. Kail worked with students as part of a theater class. And last year, Miranda gave Wesleyan’s commencement address, during which he threw in a rap from “Hamilton.”

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.