Nerren Named 2021 Presser Scholar

Music, News, Student Success

By Eliza Souers

Mary Nerren, a junior piano performance major from Johnson City, Tennessee, was recently named Lee University’s 2021-22 Presser Undergraduate Scholar.

The Presser Foundation, established by music publisher Theodore Presser, is dedicated solely to the support of music and music education. With its Undergraduate Scholar Award, the Pennsylvania-based foundation recognizes music students who exemplify high academic and musical accomplishment, leadership, and citizenship at accredited colleges and universities across the country.

At Lee, Nerren is a violinist in Symphony Orchestra, a member of Lee Singers, and a student worker and accompanist in Lee’s School of Music. She also serves as a supplemental instructor for SOM Associate Dean Dr. Phillip Thomas. Nerren is a member of the honors societies Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Chi, and Pi Kappa Lambda.

Nerren is a violinist for churches in the community and teaches piano and violin at Blair Academy for the Arts in Johnson City, Tennessee.

She is a recent winner of the Blair Academy for the Arts Grand Virtuoso Competition, received second place at the Nashville Steinway Artist Junior Piano Competition, and was a prizewinner at the Charleston Chamber Music Intensive Concerto Competition.

After graduation, Nerren plans to pursue a master’s degree in music and hopes to teach theory and piano at the collegiate level.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award and thankful to every teacher who has invested time and energy into me,” said Nerren. “This would not be possible without the wisdom, instruction, and example of the incredible School of Music faculty.”

As the 2021-22 Presser Scholar, Nerren will receive a cash stipend for her upcoming senior year.

This past fall, senior vocal education major Lauren Mills was named the 2020-21 Presser Scholar, but due to COVID-19, the presentation was made virtually.

Mills, of Delmar, Maryland, is involved in Ladies of Lee, Chorale, the Collegiate National Association for Music Education, Handbell ensemble, and Choral Union. She is also a music ministry intern at Broad Street United Methodist church, a music history tutor, and a supplemental instruction leader.

Upon graduating this May, Mills plans on teaching elementary or secondary general and choral music in Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia. She also plans to pursue further degrees in music education, educational leadership, or education policy.

Presser Undergrad uate Scholar Awards are distributed to a number of accredited institutions throughout America. Past recipients of Lee University include Elizabeth Clark (2019), Danae Bromley (2018), Brittany Martin (2017), Kristiana McCombs (2016), Matthew Kelly (2015), Joey Archer (2014), Erica Tipton (2013), Matthew Wilkinson (2012), Lamprini Lindeman (2011), Christopher Oglesby (2010), Sabbath Ward (2009), Rachael Skidmore (2008), Michael Land (2007), and Brooke Upton (2006).

For more information on the Presser Foundation, visit

For more information on Lee’s School of Music, visit or call (423) 614-8240.

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