For Jake Quast ’19 and Sophia Stetson ’19, studying at the University of Oxford led them to experiences, friends, and opportunities that have enhanced their already rich Dominican Experience.
Both students, recipients of the Thomas and Joanne Peterson Endowed Scholarship for Dominican Scholars at Oxford, spent the 2017 fall semester, known as Michaelmas, at Oxford. They were nominated by Dominican faculty to participate in the unique program, now in its third year, offered by Dominican and St. Catherine’s College, one of the University of Oxford’s 44 autonomous colleges and permanent private halls.
Her Oxford coursework piqued Sophia’s interest in pursuing a career as a strategic business consultant. She participated in a tutorial at Oxford that provided real-life situations for real-world problems that placed her in the role as a strategic consultant for a mock company.
Jake, meanwhile, was inspired by a criminal law class.
“Previously, I was on the bubble for law school, but after taking that class I loved it and enjoyed it,” says Jake, a Business Finance major minoring in pre-law. “It definitely pushed me more toward the law track. It enhanced my passion for law.”
Students from Dominican's Barowsky School of Business, Jake and Sophia appreciated Oxford’s tutorial method, a unique and highly personalized style of instruction that is the central feature of an Oxford education. They both believe that Dominican prepared them for the academic rigors of Oxford. As student-athletes for Dominican’s golf teams, they have learned the value of time management and they have found faculty to be supportive in all of their research endeavors.
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“Reading and writing is pretty much what they teach at Oxford because it’s essay format. There’s no real tests for the study abroad students,” Jake says. “Reading, writing, presenting -- I honed in those skills well. I feel like an eight-page essay isn’t much anymore.”
Sophia, a Business Marketing major and Political Science minor, studied British foreign politics during World War II.
“An important part of the Oxford experience is being able to defend and argue your positions that you cover in your essays during your presentation to your tutor, against their questions and counterarguments,” Sophia says. “I came with away with so much knowledge about my subjects. I feel like I can intellectually discuss these topics for hours on end now.”
When assigned a book list to research former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Jake was delighted to note that his tutor was the author of several books on the list.
“And I had to go present my paper and presentation to him,” says Jake, acknowledging there was extra pressure. “There is no getting around it. You have to know everything about the topic or they will call you out. That’s their job. That’s how they teach.”
The Dominican students felt welcomed and comfortable from the beginning. Jake was asked to join an Oxford club golf team and had his golf clubs shipped from Oregon. Sophia tried playing polo for the first time, and that experience brought acquaintances that ultimately led to an opportunity to visit Christ Church and its dining hall where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed.
Sophia also had a brush with greatness when she walked past Lady Margaret Hall and saw Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The Pakistani activist, who is now studying at Oxford, was shot by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education.
“I smiled at her and she smiled at me and that made my day. It made the whole experience complete,” Sophia says.
Jake, who graduated from Cascade Christian High School in Oregon, and Sophia, a graduate of Redwood High School in Visalia, also sent postcards from Oxford to Joanne Peterson and developed close bonds with their Oxford classmates.
“Oxford is such a diverse universality. I met people from almost every country in the world,” Sophia says. “You talk to these people and learn so much about all these other cultures. I could have never gotten that at any other school I could have gone to study abroad. Now I have friends all over the world that I can go visit.”