SCIO is the UK subsidiary of BestSemester and the CCCU and organizes Scholar’s Semester in Oxford (SSO), which allows college students to study abroad in Oxford, England. In Spring 2016, Whitney studied abroad in Oxford through SSO, where she took courses in American political history and modern literature.
The de Jager prizes are funded by a generous donation to SCIO from Geoffrey and Caroline de Jager, who have a long-standing commitment to encouraging excellence in education and scholarship. The awards are given after each SSO semester, and students who are in good standing are automatically considered for prizes. Essays written for three SSO courses—integrative seminar, British studies and thesis—are evaluated for scholarly excellence by SSO faculty. Those whose work is judged superior in each category are awarded a monetary award and recognition by way of the de Jager scholarships.
Learn more about Whitney’s reflections on her time at Oxford and Cairn University:
There is little to nothing that I can say that could add to the aura of a place so awe-inspiring as Oxford: Its reputation, bound up in centuries of storied history, truly exceeds a simple paragraph. Yet as I spent time as an Oxford student, in the libraries, lecture halls, and cafes that form the backbone of this town, I found that the longer I spent time in Oxford, the more deeply Oxford was becoming rooted in me, and I in it. I was not just studying Oxford’s history; I was, in a minute way, participating in it. I was not just writing an essay in an Oxford library; I was actively contributing to the literary production that has been taking place in Oxford for centuries. For the first time in my life, I realized that I am not just a student of history or literature: I am a historian, and I am a literary scholar, a point emphasized over and over again by my tutors, lecturers, and the academic authorities at SCIO. This change in terminology terrified me at first, but it helped me to expand my critical thinking to engage with literary texts, original research, and historical sources with confidence.
My time in Oxford had to come to an end, but my development as a scholar and researcher is only beginning. I am grateful to attend a university like Cairn, where critical thinking, interdisciplinary studies, and the ‘integrated life’ are taught as foundational principles of every student’s academic and spiritual development. I am certain that my success at Oxford is owed in part to the instruction that I have received at Cairn.
I am honored to a be a recipient of a de Jager scholarship, and I am elated that this recognition comes as the result of my study of British culture — one of my favorite courses of the term. I am grateful to the professors and academic staff at Cairn, in particular my academic advisor, Dr. Brenda Mellon Ebersole, for encouraging and preparing me to spend a semester abroad. The spiritual and academic instruction I received for three years at Cairn well prepared me to ‘walk a different path’ in Oxford, and I am eternally grateful for God’s guidance through all of my academic endeavors, both at home and in England. I am truly excited to return to Cairn in the fall to begin my senior year and to build on the personal, academic, and spiritual developments begun during my semester abroad.
Whitney Seidel is pursuing her BA in English and a minor in history. She is also captain of the women’s volleyball team. In the future, she would like to become a college professor in literature or history.