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Rhodes Scholar Laura Nelson

Google the name Laura Nelson, and you’ll come up with oodles of articles talking about her Rhodes Scholarship. Talk to Laura herself, and you’ll learn not only what a fascinating person she is but also how deserving she is of such an academic honor. Brilliant, passionate, and delightfully quirky, Laura opens up about her future and about some of the things that make her happiest.
Q: What does the Rhodes scholarship entail/what will you be doing?
Next October, I will be packing my books, hockey skates and board games and heading across the Atlantic to England. I’m looking forward to joining Rhodes Scholars from across the United States and all over the world (some from as far as New Zealand!) at Oxford University. As a graduate student, I plan to study 20th century English Literature. Outside the classroom, I can’t wait to play ice hockey on the Oxford team, explore old bookstores, size up the British breakfast hotspots, travel to other parts areas of the U.K., and most importantly, meet fellow students.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to accomplish while you’re there?
Oxford has been and continues to be a model for universities throughout the world. I’d love to learn more about the culture of Oxford, the British higher education system more broadly, and the similarities and differences between education in the U.S. and U.K. I also hope to form a few close friendships with students from different parts of the world.
Q: Do you have any plans or ambitions for after?
I actually have no idea what the future post-Oxford will look like. I’m thrilled to have no set plan and hope to remain open to any opportunities – perhaps unexpected – that may appear in the years ahead. I know that whatever I do will be related to education. One day, I absolutely see myself in a classroom getting students excited to read and think about literature.
Q: What are some of your favorite things you’ve done at UVa?
Flash Seminars, mini-classes announced one week in advance, bring together faculty and students to discuss ideas outside the formal classroom. The seminars, with topics ranging from “The Liberal Arts in the Era of Capitalism” to “The Business of Beauty” are dynamic and responsive to questions students have. I’ve loved helping to organize and participate in this exciting academic project. I believe that intellectual dialogue can (and should) extend beyond conventional classroom walls, and I’m always looking for new ways to make learning fun.
Q: What do you do for fun?
Live music, folk festivals, couch-surfing – count me in! I love exploring the places I live. I spend a lot of time with friends and people who are passionate about the things they do, love being creative and are always up for adventure.
Q: Describe yourself in three words. Explain.
Breakfast, books, spark.
Breakfast. An avid breakfast eater, I’m keeping a list of the top 25 breakfast places I’ve been to. I love waking up early and getting a great start to the day.
Books.I like bringing books to life and thinking about how to get others excited about reading.
Spark. I love thinking of ideas and envisioning possibilities to infuse life into learning.

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