Recent Dordt University graduate Lexi Schnaser has been awarded a prize for exceptional academic performance during the fall 2022 semester of the Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO)’s Semester Program at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. According to SCIO, Schnaser was “a very welcome addition to the semester, showing outstanding application and ability.”
As part of the SCIO program, Schnaser participated in a four-week British Culture Seminar where she focused on novelist Jane Austen. She read several of Austen’s novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Emma, as well as other novels from the same time period like Romance of the Forest by Ann Radcliffe and Evelina by Frances Burney.
“The purpose of our semester was to understand more of the context around these courtship novels and the influence of female writers and gender conventions during this time,” she says.
Schnaser produced two essays and a presentation. Her first essay was about how Austen viewed the social construction of marriage, and Schnaser analyzed the relationships of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and Marianne and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. In her second essay, she focused on the importance of reading in Austen’s novel in Pride and Prejudice and Emma; she wrote about how Elizabeth and Emma’s lack of thorough and focused book reading led them to be poor readers of people's character in their lives.
“I was excited when I found out that I’d received a prize for my work,” says Schnaser. “My British Culture Seminar was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Oxford, so it was fun to see that these essays I was proud of and had fun writing were recognized in this way,” she says.
Donald Roth, co-director of the Kuyper Honors Program (which Schnaser participated in while at Dordt), was thrilled to hear that Schnaser received a prize for her scholarship at Oxford. “This prize reflects that Lexi is a bright and talented young woman. It also demonstrates that Dordt students are capable of rising to the top in comparison with students from around the world,” he says.
Schnaser found her SCIO semester to be academically challenging, which helped her grow immensely. She enjoyed the challenge of having to conduct her own research and also loved making friends from other Council for Christian Colleges and Universities-affiliated schools.
“My favorite part of Oxford itself was its walkability and the libraries,” she says. “I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading and writing in the Radcliffe Camera and the Old Bodleian Library, but it was fun to be surrounded by so much history, beautiful architecture, and a city full of students dedicated to learning in all different areas.”
The prizes are funded by a donation to SCIO from Geoffrey and Caroline de Jager, who have a longstanding commitment to encouraging excellence in education and scholarship.
Dordt University has sent a number of students to Oxford over the years, and they have flourished there, adds Roth. “We are thrilled to have opportunities like this where students, especially those in the Kuyper Honors Program, can pursue the benefits of studying abroad combined with the rigor and prestige of the English-speaking world’s oldest university.”
About Dordt University
As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt University equips students, faculty, alumni, and the broader community to work toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life. Located in Sioux Center, Iowa, Dordt is a comprehensive university named to the best college lists by U.S. News and World Report, the Wall Street Journal, Times Higher Education, Forbes.com, Washington Monthly, and Princeton Review.