William Dever won the 2018 Mary Churchill Humphrey Scholarship.
William Dever won the 2018 Mary Churchill Humphrey Scholarship.

In a few weeks, UofL alumnus William Nathan Dever begins classes at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Dever, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies with Arabic, is funding much of his graduate education through the Mary Churchill Humphrey Scholarship — a UofL College of Arts and Sciences prize that provides up to $25,000 for graduate study in the United Kingdom.

A nontraditional student who discovered his interest in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies after taking a Metroversity class, Dever’s academic journey follows an unusual path.

It began when the Washington, DC, native heard a certain composer during his senior year of high school. Fascinated by the composer’s work, Dever turned his full attention to music and, in particular, the piano.

“I ended up taking to the piano quickly and became very interested in classical piano and, eventually, music composition. While this is still a big part of my life, I found it a very difficult path to find a steady job in. For that reason, I decided to go to university with the general intention of studying Middle Eastern studies, which I had developed an interest in following a few trips to the (Louisville) region,” Dever said.

“As I was a non-traditional student and was looking for ways to save money. I entered JCTC and completed my AA there, while also pursuing Arabic language studies on my own with a private tutor.  While at JCTC, I took a course through Metroversity at UofL with Dr. Steven Brooke, whose Middle Eastern-focused comparative politics work got me interested in pursuing a political science major upon my eventual transfer to UofL,” he said.

It seems likely that Dever’s quest to explore Middle Eastern culture and language would have pleased Mary Churchill Humphrey, the benefactor of his UofL scholarship. Humphrey, who died in 1972, established the scholarship in memory of her parents and indicated that she wanted the prize to contribute to “broadening the holder’s mind.”

For nearly 70 years, the scholarship has done exactly that and is believed to be one of the most valuable and enduring university-awarded awards in UofL history.

For Dever, the award means he can give full attention to his studies.

“Thanks to this award, I will be able to make the most of my time at the University of Edinburgh and focus on my studies in a way which would not have been otherwise possible,” he said.