Laura Nelson (Col ’11)
In November, Nelson, a political and social thought major, became the 47th student from the University to become a Rhodes Scholar. The Rhodes Scholarships are awarded to 32 American students each year. The scholarship will fund Nelson’s study at the University of Oxford in England.
“I’ve always had a dream of studying literature at Oxford,” says Nelson. She is writing her senior thesis on the Bloomsbury Group, a collection of writers, artists, philosophers and intellectuals—such as Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and E. M. Forster—who, incidentally, had close ties to Oxford.
At UVA, Nelson is a Jefferson Scholar, a Robert Kent Gooch Scholar, an Echols Scholar and a Lawn resident. In addition, Nelson is the driving force behind UVA’s “Flash Seminars,” which gather students, community members and faculty for a single-event discussion of one idea (see below).
“I am so happy that Laura has been recognized with this honor,” says Lucy Russell, director of UVA’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. “Laura is a wonderful student who has made huge contributions to life at the University.”
Jira Vinyoopongphan (Col ’12)
In December, Vinyoopongphan, who is majoring in foreign affairs and Chinese language and literature, received a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship from the U.S. Department of Education. The scholarship will fund a semester at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, where Vinyoopongphan will live with a host family.
“I will be able to continue learning Chinese in the classroom, but also have the chance to interact with native speakers on a daily basis,” says Vinyoopongphan.
Vinyoopongphan is a member of the Thai Student Organization and the Chinese Student Organization. She is also a language consultant with Volunteers with International Students and Scholars, where she is working with two Chinese graduate students on their English language skills. She has received an International Studies Office Scholarship and an Ellen Bayard Weedon grant for travel to East Asia.
“Jira is one of those students who is both talented and hardworking,” says Shu-chen Chen, her Chinese language instructor. “She is willing to learn new things and learns easily. She also is humble enough to take suggestions beneficial to her learning.”