Education / Local / Uncategorized / Virginia

Student from Arkansas selected as Rhodes Scholar for 2017

This undated photo provided by Mikaila Smith shows the soon-to-be graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, who is one of 32 Americans named Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, as Rhodes Scholars who will pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University. Smith, a dual U.S.-Australia citizen, was mostly homeschooled before attending UT, where she has studied international and long-term strategies for refugee populations. (Mikaila Smith via AP)

This undated photo provided by Mikaila Smith shows the soon-to-be graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, who is one of 32 Americans named Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, as Rhodes Scholars who will pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University. Smith, a dual U.S.-Australia citizen, was mostly homeschooled before attending UT, where she has studied international and long-term strategies for refugee populations. (Mikaila Smith via AP)

A college student from Arkansas is among 32 Americans selected as Rhodes Scholars and will pursue post-graduate studies at Oxford University in England.

Little Rock resident Lauren C. Jackson is a senior at the University of Virginia where she is majoring in political and social thought. At Oxford, she plans to pursue master’s degrees in global governance and diplomacy and refugee and forced migration studies.

“I never in a million years was thinking about (winning),” Jackson said Sunday in a phone interview. “It was really surreal that they called my name.”

Jackson, who said she’s interested in the intersection of media and humanitarian policy, described the lengthy process it took to become a candidate for the scholarship, including landing eight letters of recommendation and securing a letter of endorsement from her school.

“I probably wrote 35 drafts of my personal statement,” the 21-year-old said.

Jackson is accustomed to success. She received a full merit scholarship to Virginia and a $20,000 Jefferson Public Citizens research grant to study post-genocidal post-traumatic stress disorder in Rwanda.

Jackson said she wants to go into journalism after her post-graduate work and focus reporting on humanitarian policy an analyzing how aid is allocated to nations and what improvements can be made to the system.

She said she wants to transition from journalism to work on domestic policy. She counts Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as a role model.

“I see this opportunity as an investment in me,” she said. “I don’t think of it as resting on my laurels. I feel the obligation to give back.”

The scholars were selected from 882 applicants who were endorsed by 311 colleges and universities.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.