A Musical Journey from Nebušice to New York City

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The Scholarship Program at ISP provides transformational opportunities for deserving local students for whom an ISP education would otherwise be out of financial reach. All our scholars continue their education and go to university on another scholarship and go on to lead healthy, fulfilling, and purposeful lives, contributing responsibly to our changing world!

ISP Scholarship Recipient Lucie Vágnerová (Class of 2006) is a researcher, teacher, and editor with a Music History PhD from Columbia University and a passion for public outreach work. An expert in gender, race, labor, and music technology and volunteer in Adult Literacy. Since ISP, Lucie has embarked on a fascinating journey to New York City via college in the United Kingdom, which has been her home for the last decade. Here she reflects on what the transformative opportunity of a Scholarship meant to her and how her time at ISP influenced her as a person and educator.

Lucie’s senior yearbook photo
  • Where in the world are you and what are you doing now?

I’ve lived in New York for over a decade now, and co-founded BKT Education here last year with a friend and fellow ex-Ivy music scholar Jennifer Chu. We specialize in guiding students through transitional moments in their education: from high school to college, during gap years, navigating international transfers, and through other learning challenges. We founded the company at the beginning of the pandemic, which was the biggest transitional moment for students and schools writ large, and it’s been exciting and humbling to watch students grow through this time.

  • What do you intend to do in the future?

My aim is to grow our company in a direction that makes quality education accessible for a broader set of students, and one that is sustainable for families and educators both. To this end, we plan to partner with arts institutions, schools, and libraries in New York to bring arts, digital literacy, and communications-oriented programming to students with diverse backgrounds.

Lucie cycles with the Atlantic in the background
  • How has being the recipient of an ISP Scholarship affected your life?

The ISP Scholarship opened many educational opportunities for me and transformed the way I think of myself in relation to the world. I went to college in England and went to grad school in the U.S. That probably wouldn’t have happened had I stayed at a Czech high school. More than that though, being part of an international community changed my worldview to consider the perspectives of a diverse set of people and stakeholders. My sense of who I am today is inseparable from learning and caring about people who are quite unlike myself, and it was at ISP that I developed this sense of critical thinking and empathy.  

Lucie with Business Partner and fellow ex-Ivy music scholar Jennifer Chu
  • Have you a specific memory of your time at ISP that you would like to share?

One time, in Physical Education, I got elbowed in the face during a game of basketball and ended up with a large blackeye. Today, it’s a good memory of trying super hard at something I was absolutely terrible at. I think about it every time I see a nasty foul in the NBA.

  • If you hadn’t attended ISP, how do you think your life might have turned out differently?

I had always been an ambitious student but I was wholly uninterested in becoming an educator myself before I entered ISP. The engaged and creative approaches of my teachers at ISP were instrumental to my entering the education sector in one of the most diverse and international cities in the world.