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Freshman receives first Gee scholarship

Being accepted to a four-year university would be enough to excite any high school graduate. For Todd Fessler, learning that he had also received a four-year, full tuition scholarship was just icing on the cake.
In May, Fessler, a first-year in music education, learned he was the first recipient of the Gee Scholarship.
The scholarship was backed by Gee’s personal commitment of $1 million to create an endowed scholarship this January. Every year the scholarship will be given to an incoming freshman in a different academic department. This year the scholarship was geared toward active involvement in arts.
Because he never directly applied for the scholarship, Fessler was speechless when he found out. “I had no idea,” he said.
Fessler heard the news during his graduation practice after his guidance counselor made the announcement in front of his entire senior class. His family did not believe him until he proved it to them on the Internet that evening. “It was an emotional night,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it. There aren’t many great schools in Ohio for music,” said Fessler, a trumpet player in Ohio State’s Marching Band and a music enthusiast. “It’s what I always wanted to do.”
Although he had already been accepted, Fessler had not obtained a spot in Ohio State’s Marching Band. He had to sacrifice his entire summer and give up his job to participate in a four-day audition process. Although his expectations were low, he earned a spot playing the trumpet.
“It was the most physically and mentally demanding four days of my life,” he said. “I didn’t know if I had what it took.”
Although he made the band, Fessler will have to try out every year. “You’ve got to love it to do it for a long time,” he said.
Fessler was a member of the Grove City High School Band, Symphonic Band and Jazz Band, as well as The Ohio State University High School Honor Band.
Fessler is the first member of his family to attend college. He hopes to play in the band all five years and receive a bachelor’s degree in music education.
During move-in week, Fessler met President Gee. “I couldn’t thank him enough,” Fessler said.
Gee was also pleased to meet the first recipient of his scholarship.
“Todd Fessler is an impressive, determined and talented young man,” Gee said. “In everything we do, this University is about providing opportunities and serving Ohioans. I am honored to have played some small role in enabling Todd to come to Ohio State. Now, the hard work is his to do.”
Fessler noted that his band director was influential in his journey to Ohio State. “I firmly believe he’s the reason I’m here,” he said.
Fessler wants to become a teacher and band director himself. He hopes to return the lessons his band director gave him.
“I’d like to give back to students what he gave to me,” he said.

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