November 21, 2011 – A Georgetown graduate student who says she struggled through high school and considered becoming a professional surfer instead of going to college has won a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University.
Stephanie J. Bryson of San Diego, who is in the School of Foreign Service’s Master of Arts in German and European Studies (MAGES) at Georgetown, eventually changed her mind and went on to graduate summa cum laude from California State University, Long Beach, and was that university's valedictorian.
Having just begun her studies at Georgetown in the fall, she plans to finish the year in Washington and then defer the second year of her program while at Oxford.
A Perfect Match
Bryson applied with the intention of pursuing an MPhil in European politics and society in England, but says she may also consider an MPhil or a DPhil in politics and international relations instead.
“It’s no surprise that I chose European politics and society,” says the former lifeguard, who learned she won the Rhodes this past Saturday, “as that perfectly matches up with my current path in the Georgetown MAGES program. My passion is the trans-Atlantic relationship, and I plan to use the Rhodes to study it further and from a different perspective.”
Of her professors at Georgetown, she says, “All of them do their part to uphold Georgetown’s stellar reputation.”
Student and Citizen
The young woman who once wanted to surf for a living has slightly higher goals now.
“I hope to be in and out of academia and policy advising with the hopes of one day advising the President on trans-Atlantic relations.”
Prior to coming to Georgetown, she spent a year at Berlin’s Humboldt University and interned at the U.S. mission to the European Union in Brussels. She also worked in the Wounded Warrior Project and for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
“Stephanie is the kind of student and citizen we all admire,” says School of Foreign Dean Carol Lancaster, “not just an outstanding student but someone who has gained extensive broad and practical experience in her area of interest – European studies – as well as contributed to making her own society and community a better place. We are all proud of her being named a Rhodes scholar and wish her a great experience amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford University.”
Four other Georgetown students and alumni were finalists for the Rhodes.
Jacqueline DesJardin (C’11) of Sunnyvale, Calif., was one of the final three in consideration for the two San Francisco Rhodes slots, and Natalie Punchak (C’11) of Doylestown, Pa. was one of the final four for the Pennsylvania Rhodes. Pam Nwaoko (C’10) of Irvington, N.J., and John Gwin (SFS’12) of Beachwood, Ohio, were also finalists.
“Stephanie and our four Rhodes finalists exemplify what it means to live as men and women for others,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “Our entire Georgetown community joins me in sending them our deepest congratulations.”
Georgetown has produced 23 Rhodes scholars, including President Bill Clinton (SFS’68).
Words of Wisdom
Georgetown’s fellowship office, led by English professor John Glavin, helped coach Bryson through the process.
“Dr. Glavin’s tips on how to structure the essay caused me to do a complete rewrite,” Bryson says. “I was heading in totally the wrong direction. If I hadn’t had his words of wisdom on the essay I know there would have been no chance for my application to make it through.”
In addition to Bryson's win, Georgetown undergraduate Luke Schoenfelder won the prestigious Marshall scholarship.