Rachel Marie Woodlee, a Wofford College senior volleyball player from Greer, S.C., was selected Saturday for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and will attend the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom as part of the class of 2013.
Woodlee was invited to St. Louis, Mo., over the weekend as one of 12 finalists for the scholarship representing District 12 (South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri). She competed against nearly 200 national finalists from a pool of about 830 applicants from more than 300 American colleges and universities for the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award in the world.
“I’ve never been so excited about anything in my entire life,” Woodlee said Saturday after her selection. “This is such a life-changing experience. I looked around that room (at the other finalists) and I knew everyone there was deserving. Everyone there will be hugely successful. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Wofford president Benjamin B. Dunlap said of Woodlee and her selection:
“Fighting the world’s fight is what the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship said he wanted its recipients to undertake. As a star athlete in volleyball – and before that, in basketball – Rachel knows all about fighting. As someone who has lived and studied in China and other distant lands, she knows a great deal about the world,” said Dunlap.
He added “As a Wofford student leader with a perfect academic record, as someone with wit and energy and verve, as a person intensely committed to the well-being of others, she is perfectly equipped to make this world a better place. All of us should rejoice, for I promise you, she will.”
Dunlap himself was a Rhodes Scholar in 1959.
Woodlee is one of 32 students selected for the Rhodes Scholar Class of 2013, which will attend the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.
The Rhodes Trust, a British charity established to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes, provides full financial support for the Rhodes Scholars to attend Oxford. The first American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904.
Woodlee is majoring in business economics and Chinese and is a graduate of Mauldin High School. She is the daughter of Timothy and Joan Woodlee of Greer, S.C., and the granddaughter of Dorothy Woodlee (formerly Nelms) and the late Lierd Woodlee of Warren County.