S. Carolina university student solves musical mystery

Centuries-old manuscripts. Three countries. And a budding scholar who knew, somehow, that they formed one piece of music.

Elizabeth Nyikos' work to reconstitute a 14th-century musical manuscript isn't The Da Vinci Code, but it did help her unlock a path to Oxford University when Nyikos, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina music student, accepted a Marshall Scholarship on Monday.

The scholarship, awarded to only 40 students each year nationwide, will cover Nyikos' expenses at Oxford. The native of Columbia, S.C., is only the second USC student to win a Marshall Scholarship since 2001.

Established in 1953 in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the scholarship covers two years of graduate study at a university in the United Kingdom. Scholarship recipients must go through a rigorous application process that, for Nyikos, included an interview at the British consulate in Atlanta.

"I don't think it's sunk in yet," Nyikos said of winning the scholarship. "I went from wondering, 'What I was going to do?' to 'Everything is taken care of.' "

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