Since childhood, Lindsey Narmour ’15 has wanted to study at the oldest university in the English-speaking world. This June, the Hollins University English major and Ferrum, Virginia, resident is realizing that dream.
Named a British Universities Summer Scholar (BUSS) for 2014, Narmour has been awarded an all-expense-paid scholarship by the English-Speaking Union (ESU) to spend three weeks enrolled in two major seminars, Critical Reading and Shakespeare on Stage and Screen, at England’s University of Oxford, one of the world’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning.
“I was familiar with the ESU and their goal of promoting the English language between cultures and in different countries,” Narmour explains. In December 2013, she learned of the BUSS scholarship program sponsored by the ESU’s Virginia chapter, which is open to college and university juniors in the commonwealth. She applied the following month “just to see what would happen.”
Based on her grade point average, a statement of purpose explaining why she wanted to study at Oxford and what she hoped to gain from her experience, and letters of reference attesting to her character and qualifications, Narmour was invited for an interview with the ESU chapter in Richmond. Shortly thereafter, she was offered the scholarship.
“To have this opportunity now while I’m an undergraduate is remarkable and I’m very thankful for it,” she says. “Getting immersion in a place where English literature had its genesis and to be with professors whose perspective might be different than what I’ve encountered in the U.S. would enable me to have a broader range of experience with the English language and a keener understanding of it.”
Narmour transferred to Hollins last fall from Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke. “I had been looking at Hollins since high school – the English program was a huge pull for me. I had talked to and corresponded with some of the professors beforehand about the sorts of things I would be able to do if I were to go to Hollins. I found that everything they said is quite true as far as the strength of the English department. The caliber of professors here is quite wonderful.”
One of those faculty members, Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty, is Narmour’s advisor and also helped her with the scholarship application.
“The English-Speaking Union has as its mission the celebration of English as a shared language to foster global understanding and goodwill by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members,” Moriarty says. “I’m delighted that Lindsey was selected by the committee in a competitive process that will enable her to attend summer school at Oxford. Engaged, self-motivated, and knowledgeable, she is the kind of student who makes the most of every educational opportunity.”
After completing her undergraduate degree, Narmour plans to pursue both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English. Eventually, she would like to study full-time at Oxford or at least perform an independent study there.
“My aim right now is to become a professor and specialize in medieval literature. I’m looking into teaching in a different country at the university level – I’d love to live in England and possibly teach at Oxford. At the same time, I’d certainly be interested in teaching here in Virginia. If I could, I’d love to teach at Hollins or Virginia Western.”
In the meantime, Narmour is excited to make the most out of her time in Oxford this summer and is currently exploring opportunities to do research outside of the classroom and possibly travel in the area. “I’d really like to visit the Bodleian Library, which is England’s equivalent to the Library of Congress. I hope to pursue a senior thesis next year and I’d like to collect materials that will aid me later on. So, this scholarship has come at a very opportune time.”