West Virginia University is continuing the tradition of endorsing its exceptional students for one of the nation’s most prestigious academic awards.

WVU has endorsed Eberly College of Arts and Sciences seniors Jennifer Head of Charleston and Clara Beth Novotny of Falling Waters for the Rhodes Scholarship. The globally-revered award provides its 32 recipients each year with tuition, travel and living expenses for up to three years of undergraduate or graduate study in any field at the University of Oxford.

To earn a University endorsement for the Rhodes Scholarship, students must have outstanding academic backgrounds, excellent portfolios as leaders and a strong and demonstrated commitment to service. Students spend months working with the scholarships’ faculty advisors and WVU’s ASPIRE office as part of the process, which concludes with interviews by campus committees.

WVU has produced 25 Rhodes Scholars since 1904. ASPIRE director Amy Cyphert says these two students have the ability to increase that number.

“Both of these young women represent stellar scholastic achievements and are interested in giving back to their communities and fighting the world fights,” said Cyphert. “Jennifer and Clara Beth have each selected programs at Oxford that are natural fits for their strengths and will advance their chosen career paths.”

Rhodes Scholarship Faculty Advisor Katherine Aaslestad said that these students are a cross-section of exceptional qualities that are valued by the Rhodes Trust.

“Our current Rhodes’ candidates embody the best of West Virginia University and the values of the Rhodes Trust; they have worked hard and achieved at the highest academic level for years, made important contributions to the community, and will become leaders in their careers,” said Aaslestad. “It has been my pleasure to work with them as they developed strong and thoughtful applications over the course of several months.”

Jennifer Head
For triple-major Jennifer Head, studying at Oxford is a lifelong dream—one that she has spent the last four years working tirelessly to make a reality.

“I actually started looking at Rhodes a few years ago because Oxford has always been a historic place for philosophy, which is what I want to study in grad school,” said Head. “I have always dreamed about studying at Oxford and following in the footsteps of all the philosophers I’ve studied all these years.”

Head is majoring in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences disciplines of philosophy, English and Spanish. She is also pursuing a minor in linguistics. She said her Eberly professors and education gave her the confidence and preparation to pursue the Rhodes Scholarship.

“My Eberly education taught me to engage with new ideas and pursue a well-rounded curriculum,” said Head.

While her resume details an impressive list of activities, accolades and philanthropy, Head said that her most influential experience at WVU has been tutoring for the philosophy department and the WVU Writing Studio.

“Tutoring has been a very influential experience for me personally,” said Head. “The experience has really challenged me to be patient and a good listener. I’ve really taken away the lesson of talking ideas out with people before committing to them or disposing of them.”

Clara Beth Novotny
Clara Beth Novotny entered WVU four years ago as a Foundation Scholar—and she hopes to leave her University with a Rhodes Scholarship this spring.

Novotny is an Honors College student and dual major in biochemistry through the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and Spanish through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. She credits both curriculums for preparing her for a Rhodes endorsement.

“I’ve just had a fantastic program of study,” said Novotny. “Both the Spanish and biochemistry programs have prepared me to be a capable student of the Oxford community if selected and cultivated me as a scientist of the world.”

Novotny said that of all of her enriching experiences at WVU, studying abroad with the stipend afforded to her by the Foundation Scholarship has been the most influential in her academic and personal growth.

“Studying abroad with the Foundation Scholarship was such an important experience for me and gave me a world view that got me interested in the Rhodes Scholarship,” Novotny said. “I had the opportunity to study in northern and southern Spain and participate in a spring break study abroad trip to Honduras. I met students from all over the world and realized there is so much to gain from acquiring that kind of global perspective.”

Novotny is fascinated by the English medical system. She plans to study clinical embryology and tropical medicine at Oxford if selected as a Rhodes Scholar.

For more information on the Rhodes Scholarship or WVU scholarship processes, please visit the ASPIRE website at http://aspire.wvu.edu.



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