Clemson University Honors College students Sergio Gonzalez Varela and Gavin Hunt are two of four participants who shared a unique summer experience while being able to study on Oxford University’s campus. This opportunity was made available to them through the Christopher J. Duckenfield Scholars Program.
The five-week summer program allows Honors students the opportunity to learn from Oxford professors in one of three study areas: environmental studies, English and English literature studies, or medieval studies. Students are selected through a stringent application process based on their talent, motivation, commitment and ability to attend St. Peter’s College Summer School at Magdalen College.
The Duckenfield Scholarship gives our students an opportunity to broaden their educational horizons. The subject areas covered at Oxford, along with the unique instructional method used in tutorial classes, help our students become deeper, more synthetic, and more independent thinkers.
Sergio Gonzalez Varela, a political science major from Seneca, chose to study English and English Literature, specifically, Rediscovering Shakespeare.
He applied to this program in hopes of cultural enrichment positively influencing him as a student and a future foreign civil service officer or American ambassador in the Latin American region.
“This experience over the summer has been an unbelievable development in my life. I made new friends, learned so much more than I could have imagined, and gained a new sense of independence,” said Gonzalez Varela. “It has truly been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had.”
Gonzalez Varela will use what he learned through Shakespeare’s writings to help guide his understanding of moral and political issues. In doing so, he believes he can balance being a compassionate yet effective government official.
“I want to learn from the mistakes of men like Coriolanus so I can truly serve the people’s interests through my job,” added Gonzalez Varela.
Gavin Hunt, a mechanical engineering major from Summerville, chose to study Medieval Studies, specifically Conquest & Colonisation: England and her Neighbours – 1016-1296.
He had been interested in applying to be a Duckenfield scholar since his first year on campus. This program allowed him to complete his History minor and gave him essential knowledge for his future career as a technical weapons analyst for the State Department or intelligence community.
“I definitely recommend this program to all interested students! It was the best summer of my life,” said Hunt. “The professors and staff were exceptional in their fields and easy to get along with, while the other students at the summer school became lifelong friends. I still text them every day!”
Hunt’s desired profession requires an understanding of international politics and history. This career path requires an individual with an engineering degree and knowledge of history and international relations.
“Being able to study medieval history, the beginning of modern Europe, and how these nations interacted will help me become a more qualified candidate for this type of job,” Hunt said.
Gonzalez Varela and Hunt were two of four recipients this year to receive the opportunity of studying within this program. They recently both had the opportunity to report their summer research and activities to the Honors College community.
The other 2022 program participants, Eliza Basel and Delaney Wallace will present their experiences online on November 28. During her time abroad, Basel chose to study Environmental Studies with a focus on Climate Change in the Anthropocene: Global Catastrophic Risk & Management. Wallace chose to study English & English Literature, focusing on Prison Literature: The Freedom of Imprisonment.
The Christopher J. Duckenfield Scholars Program was established in 2005 by family and friends of the late Christopher Duckenfield. This Oxford alumnus also served as Clemson’s vice provost for computing and information technology. To honor his memory, his wife Marty continues to oversee the program and enjoys connecting with all students who participate.
Were it not for the Oxford experience that my husband Chris and I had, we would not be here at Clemson. Clemson was an amazing place for us to be and still is for me. We both knew how Oxford had changed our lives, and my children recognized how studying abroad had changed theirs. Our family felt it fitting that a way to honor Chris was to connect Clemson University with Oxford in a meaningful way and to change lives in the process. The students honor Chris’s larger legacy at Clemson and what he saw as a transformative time at Oxford. I have seen lives changed each year since 2005, as scholars return from their incomparable experience at Magdalen College.
Students interested in the Duckenfield scholars Program or other study-abroad opportunities are encouraged to contact Melissa Hawkins.
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