HARTFORD, CT, May 16, 2011 – Four Trinity students will spend their junior year at Worcester College, a constituent unit of the University of Oxford in England, one of the most historic and prestigious institutions of higher education in the world.
The four women are among Trinity’s highest academic achievers; to even be considered for admission by Worcester College a student must have compiled a minimum 3.8 GPA.
“They are among our top academic students,” said Jason Fenner, assistant director of international programs at Trinity. “It’s a very difficult and competitive process. Worcester College only accepts 16 visiting students each year.”
The four are Megan Baxter, a religion major from Briggsdale, Colorado; Aneta Buraityte, a psychology major from Lithuania; Leah Novak, an English major from New York City; and Shuyang Zhu, an environmental science and economics double major from Nanjing, China. Buraityte is spending the spring 2011 semester at Curtin University in Australia. Students are permitted to spend as many as three semesters abroad and still be eligible to graduate with a degree from Trinity.
The Worcester experience is unlike many study abroad programs. It’s based on a trimester system and students are taught one on one by faculty members. Each student is required to enroll in a primary and secondary tutorial, and there is a great emphasis on individual writing and research. Each trimester is 8 weeks followed by a six-week break.
Visiting students are fully integrated in the life of the college. They’re housed alongside British undergraduates, and they eat their meals in an 18th-century dining hall. U.S. students are treated as bona fide students and can attend faculty lectures, as well as have access to the university library and computing services. The Trinity students will attend Freshers’ Week in the Michaelmas Term, otherwise known as the fall semester. They will be entitled and encouraged to participate in Oxford’s extracurricular activities, including sports, drama, musical organizations, student publications and debating societies.
The four Trinity students represent the largest contingent to attend Oxford in recent memory. Currently, Chang Liu of Beijing, China, and Katherine Joachim of Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin are studying at Worcester College, and Nichola Clark of Conway, Arkansas is a student at Oxford’s Mansfield College. In 2009-10, Chao Liao ’11 of Beijing spent his junior year at Oxford.
Liao, a math major with a minor in music, said his year at Oxford “was an amazing experience, especially on the academic side.” He noted that there is a huge variety of debates, lectures and other activities that students can choose from, and he also enjoyed the “complete academic freedom” that Oxford affords its students.
“You really get to know the professors well and the professors can tailor the courses to meet your needs on a personal level,” said Liao.
Buraityte could not be reached for comment, but Baxter, Novak and Zhu said they applied to Oxford for very different reasons. Zhu was influenced by Liao’s positive experience and also wanted to avail herself of the chance to study in England. She said she had a math teacher in high school “who is so smart and he went to Oxford. I want to be just like him.”
Baxter said she was attracted to Oxford because of its long and distinguished history and because she’s “a big fan” of the late C.S. Lewis, who was a leading figure on the English faculty at Oxford and a member of the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings.” Lewis is perhaps most famous for having written The Chronicles of Narnia.
Novak said she was drawn to Oxford’s tutorial system, and also was encouraged to apply by Sarah Bilston, assistant professor of English, who received two degrees from Oxford and thought the university would be “a good match” for Novak. Indeed, Novak would like to attend graduate school and Oxford is on the list of schools that she might apply to.
Although the University of Oxford has been in existence since the late 13th century, Worcester College, described as “a happy blend of ancient and modern,” was founded in 1714.
The College’s library, chapel and dining hall were designed by some of Britain’s finest 18th- and 19th-century architects. The residential accommodations range from picturesque 15th-century monks' cottages to award-winning modern rooms. The gardens and grounds cover 26 acres.