Double Major Lauds Faculty, Staff Support For Oxford Scholarship

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With the support of advisors and professors in the School of Liberal Arts and Education, including Dr. Jordan Lieser and Alison Howard, Christina Pathoumthong ’22, a double major in history and political science, will finally realize a dream of studying at the University of Oxford this fall.

She just needed to work around a pandemic to fulfill that enduring wish.

“Dominican has truly offered me an unparalleled experience. In addition to achieving a sense of belonging, I have grown to become confident and outspoken,” Christina says. “After I received an email in which Dr. Lieser stated that he would trust me with an Oxford nomination, I realized that the Dominican community is unlike any other. I was so touched to be nominated and to know how much he thought of me as a student. Applying to become the Dominican Scholar at Oxford felt like a long shot.”

Like a Stephen Curry long shot on a basketball court, she made it.

When Christina first learned two years ago that she had been accepted as a Dominican Scholar at Oxford, she was so excited to see ‘Offer Of Place at St. Catherine’s College’ on her phone I.D. she cheered so loud she scared her mother. St. Catz is one of the constituent colleges at Oxford.

“I started crying, frightening my mom. I immediately called my roommate, as I had promised her she would be the first to hear of the news, and as I was stumbling over my words I realized that I had yet to read the actual email and confirm my acceptance,” Christina recalls. “I read the entire email about five times because I was in pure shock at the amazing news. I then contacted my professors, who had generously guided me through the application process. I will never forget that moment and that triumphant feeling of elation.”

Then the pandemic happened and Christina couldn’t go to England. Last October, she was officially notified that her Oxford trip would be put on hold. She was sad it was unsafe to travel, but comforted to know Dominican put her safety as a first priority.

“I am very grateful that Dominican and my study abroad advisor kept my health and well-being at the forefront, but I was of course immensely disappointed and feeling both helpless and hopeless in regards with my study abroad plans,” Christina says. “However, that night, my contact at Oxford reassured me that my place at Oxford would be secure until it was appropriate to travel. Having that support from both institutions greatly assisted me in continuing forward and staying vigilant for any change of news.”

The support Christina received from Dominican followed after she toured campus as a senior at Acalanes High School in Lafayette and was taken by its location, beauty, and intimacy. Though interested in both history and political science, she had not declared a major when she arrived as a freshman and explored multiple digital storytelling classes, a biology class, and a poetry class. Then, during her second semester, Christina was captivated by an `Introduction to American Politics' class.

“My advisor, Christina Mayes, advised me to speak to the advisor of each of the majors I was interested in, which I did and I’m glad I did. I had great conversations with Alison Howard and Dr. Lieser, and planned to continue my courses in political science and history,” Christina says. “By my sophomore year I finally felt a sense of belonging I had yet to experience and without any doubt I declared political science and history as my majors at the end of the fall semester of 2019. I love my majors and they complement each other really well. Both allow me to study the past, present, and future and to make educated and thoughtful decisions about my own life to then help others.”

Christina is grateful for the help she received from Dr. Lieser and Alison Howard in guiding her through the Oxford scholarship application. She took multiple classes from both including a `Call Of The Sea' support project through a public history course. Two other political science professors, Eric Sinrod and Dr. Gigi Gokcek, were influential as well. Dr. Gokcek, now Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Education, challenged Christina in her `Introduction to World Politics' class.

“I don’t know what it was, but she really opened my eyes to not only a different, but a whole realm of perspectives,” Christina says. “Through her lesson plans, assignments, and personal talks between revising essays, I think she really expanded my appreciation for education and understanding how the world works. Since her class, she’s inspired me to go beyond the readings and lessons.”

Christina also found a friend and ally in Monica Barry ‘20 who attended Oxford in the fall of 2018. Monica, named Dominican’s `Outstanding Student’ during virtual commencement ceremonies last year, is a graduate student at the University of Chicago.

“Monica has worked with me throughout the process since I first applied in November 2019 until present day,” Christina says, “She’s been open and upfront about her experiences and how she dealt with the workload. Without any international travel experience, this process is very new to me, but she has brought great comfort and wisdom.”

Now Christina feels prepared. She plans to travel to Oxford in September and take two tutorial courses; International Relations In Specific Reference to the Middle East, and British Imperial History.

“I am prepared to immerse myself in new cultures and communities. I am also excited to sharpen and grow my writing skills,” Christina says. “As I am preparing to finish my senior year, I hope to gain perspective on my future career path because after Dominican I plan to apply to law school.”

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