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Peabody alum reflects on journey from student to benefactor

Scholarship fund supports current and future students
Posted December 5, 2014
Taylor Hanex, pictured with pup Destiny Cauliflower, named the John J. Hanex Memorial Scholarship to assist students who have lost a parent. An additional gift through her estate plan ensures future generations will receive support, too. IMAGE: Will Kirk Taylor Hanex, pictured with pup Destiny Cauliflower, named the John J. Hanex Memorial Scholarship to assist students who have lost a parent. An additional gift through her estate plan ensures future generations will receive support, too. IMAGE: Will Kirk

An accomplished pianist and financial professional, Taylor Hanex, Peab '75, '78 (MM), credits the Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute for finding her true self. She recently increased her support of a scholarship fund through her estate plan, paving the way for future students to discover their best selves.

A Grand Surprise. When I was 12, my father brought a shoebox of folded-up $20 bills out of the closet. He’d been saving for many years to buy me a grand piano. My mother unwrapped the bills, and we went out and bought my piano. I still have it, and I will never let it go.

Common Ground. I was kind of an awkward, only child. I put myself into the piano and loved it. My music helped me to grow and communicate. My mother and father knew that music nurtured me. I was 12 when they drove me from Virginia to the Prep [Peabody Preparatory school, for children and adolescents in the performing arts], and there, I finally found friends, soul mates, and kindred spirits. Plus, I didn’t have to take chemistry and trigonometry! I could focus on what I could do best.

From instrument to investment. During my Peabody years I always knew I wanted the business side of the arts. I bought my first stock when I was 21, and I loved financial planning, saving, and being financially secure. Playing the piano is a solitary endeavor, and I am a people person. It was natural to transition over to advising others. Many of my clients are artists and people who love the arts. I really do have the best of both worlds.

Fitting tribute. My father is my inspiration to give back. He died when I was 19, and Peabody provided me with a grant to complete my undergraduate degree and go on to earn my master’s. I feel that Peabody saved my life, and he and my mother helped me to get there. The scholarship I started, for students who have lost a parent, is in my father’s name. He is the alpha and the omega, and that is why continued support of the scholarship is part of my estate plan.

Setting the Stage. The students today are so incredibly talented. It’s just mindboggling—the skill, the artistry, how advanced they are. It’s my hope the scholarship helps them to fulfill their goals and dreams, so that someday they will share their talents with the rest of the world and serve as role models for the next generation of artists.

Taylor Hanex, senior vice president of wealth management for Merrill Lynch, is a Johns Hopkins University trustee and the Peabody ambassador for the Legacy Society, honoring those who make a bequest commitment or life-income gift to any area of Johns Hopkins.