The news in the fall of 2017 that Monica Barry ’20, a double major in English and History, had been selected to study at the University of Oxford brought tears to her eyes.
“I feel so fortunate. I can’t even put into words how much it meant to have this opportunity. Oxford is a dream school,” says Monica, who has returned to Dominican after spending the fall 2018 semester at Oxford. “I’m so thankful to the donors and Dominican. It really solidifies how happy I am here.”
Monica and Lily Dubuc ’19, who is attending Oxford during spring 2019, were nominated by Dominican faculty to receive the Thomas and Joanne Peterson Endowed Scholarship for Dominican Scholars at Oxford.
Now in its sixth year, the unique program is offered by Dominican and St Catherine’s College, one of the University of Oxford’s 44 autonomous colleges and permanent private halls.
Monica was studying European World History from 1914-45 and Late Victorian and Edwardian Literature using the tutorial method, a unique and highly personalized style of instruction that is the central feature of an Oxford education. She also had the opportunity to experience the many college traditions at Oxford, including eating dinners in the Formal Hall where faculty and fellows sit at the High Table.
The program was announced in 2015 by Dominican President Mary B. Marcy, who earned her doctorate and master’s degrees in political science from Oxford. Since then, six Dominican undergraduates have studied at Oxford at Dominican Scholars.
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English professor Thomas Burke first recognized that Monica might be a candidate for the Oxford scholarship when she was a freshman. That was about the same time that History Professor Dr. Jordan Lieser suggested that Monica look into History as a minor or second major. With the additional help of professors Perry Guevara and Judy Halebsky in the School of Liberal Arts and Education, Monica decided to become a double major.
“My advisers sat down with me and came up with a plan,” Monica recalls. “They showed me that they cared and that Dominican cared.”
Monica cared about Dominican as well. She became a Student Ambassador and participated in the “Shakespeare and Social Justice” arts-in-correction program in San Quentin State Prison through Dominican’s partnership with the Marin Shakespeare Company. Last spring, she was one of 22 Dominican students that presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Going to Oxford, however, was never in her plans.
“I was so shocked. It was Oxford. How do you not go?” says Monica, who graduated from Eagle Rock High School near Pasadena. “Coming into Dominican my freshman year I had no intention of studying abroad. At the time it was hard enough to leave L.A. and move a six-hour drive away from home. I couldn’t have imagine leaving the country.”
While preparing for her fall in Oxford, Monica sought the advice of Sophia Stetson ’19 who, along with Jake Quast ’19, were Dominican Scholars at Oxford in 2017.
“My experience says a lot about small schools,” Monica says. “A lot of times when people look at the big picture and at bigger schools they think they are going to get more opportunities and greater internships, but it is small schools like Dominican that have so much to offer. It’s so much more personal.”