Senior Receives Unexpected Scholarship

Jonathan Keener gets pointers from professor, Dr. Paulo Steinberg Jonathan Keener gets some pointers from his principal professor, Dr. Paulo Steinberg.
Photo by Jim Bishop

Whatever the undertaking, it pays to do it well. Just ask Eastern Mennonite University senior Jonathan Keener.

Keener, a piano performance major, was invited to play piano at the opening session of a meeting held Feb. 1 in Washington, D.C., of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), an association of 102 schools in the US and Canada of which EMU is a member.

Keener played Chopin’s “Ballade #4” to an audience of some 100 persons, mostly presidents of CCCU-member schools.

Apparently, the group appreciated his performance. Shortly thereafter, Keener was awarded a scholarship from Sallie Mae Campus Solutions toward graduate studies in music. Sallie Mae is a leading charitable organization that has helps students and families make Christian educatio more affordable.

“I was pleasantly surprised and grateful to receive the award,” Keener said. “Applying to graduate school can be expensive, and I certainly could use the money.”


Keener is currently deciding between an assistantship at James Madison University, where he would teach and accompany students, or Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. At JMU, he would receive full tuition and a stipend for living expenses.

The Elizabethtown, Pa., native has been a member of the EMU Chamber Singers, a select student choir, and a pastoral assistant with campus ministries, helping to plan and lead worship services.

EMU’s [music] program is small, but for me that’s been a real plus,” Keener said. “The professors are great, and they’ve related to me on a personal level.”

Not only that, “but I’ve had many opportunities to perform individually and in ensembles,” he added. Most recently, he played a movement from Beethoven’s “Emperor” piano concerto at the EMU-Community Orchestra’s spring concert.

Keener will graduate with a BA in music performance and a minor in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) on Apr. 29. This summer, he will put that training to work as a teacher in EMU’s Intensive English Program (IEP), which helps prepare students from many countries for undergraduate studies.

Keener’s long-range goal, after graduate school, is to either teach piano on the college level or to serve overseas in long-term missions.

He is a member of Elizabethtown (PA) Mennonite Church.