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Bluefield University Student Accepted Into Oxford Program and Places First at BRURC

by | May 26, 2021

Laura Kimzey, a junior at Bluefield University from Blacksburg, VA, has been accepted into a study-abroad program, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) GlobalEd Semester (formally BestSemester), where she will travel to Oxford in the spring semester of 2022. Kimzey also recently won first place in the oral presentation portion in the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC).

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) is a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions around the world, including Bluefield University. CCCU GlobalEd is a collection of faith-integrated, off-campus study programs that foster intellectual, cultural, vocational, and spiritual growth.

“I first heard about CCCU’s GlobalEd opportunity at Oxford during the competition for the presidential scholarship at Bluefield University,” said Kimzey “Dr. Flowers (vice president for academic affairs at Bluefield University) encouraged the group to pursue the program, advice accompanied in the next few semesters by emails from Dr. Maria Zalduondo, (Bluefield University director of Global Education), detailing various study abroad opportunities.”

“As an English Literature major and avid fan of the many noteworthy Oxfordians, I’m sure I join thousands in wanting to study at Oxford. I also treasure a personal connection to Oxford, due to having visited it for a creative writing masterclass in summer 2019,” said Kimzey. “With this excitement and my advisor’s encouragement, I researched the program online and filled out an application. Late last semester, I was accepted to go!”

Kimzey will be studying with GlobalEd’s Scholarship and Christianity in the Oxford program, a summer, semester, or year-long study abroad program offered through CCCU.

“It brings together students who are committed to academic excellence and the Christian faith together at Oxford to live at Oxford and study a discipline of their choice through Oxford’s one-on-one tutorial method,” said Kimzey. “SCIO emphasizes rigorous academics, offers numerous field trip opportunities (Stonehenge, London, various castles, etc.), and focuses on developing students in their faith, thinking abilities, and life skills. I’m going to be studying English literature,” added Kimzey.

Kimzey also recently competed in the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC), an annual conference that is held by Lincoln Memorial University that helps showcase undergraduate research and propel undergraduate students to help make the world a better place through their research. Kimzey learned of this program through her advisor, Dr. Rob Merritt, professor and chair of the English department at Bluefield University. Dr. Merritt sponsored and helped Kimzey prepare her essay, a study of The Great Gatsby through a psychological view, for the conference.

“Laura is always super-conscientious in all her work, especially prepared in-depth for every assignment, said Dr. Merritt. “Her writing is so thoughtful; she is always so careful about her organization, understanding of rhetorical strategies, and her research is extremely detailed.

“I specifically applied Internal Family Systems (IFS), a fairly recent form of psychotherapy, to a book we read in English seminar: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I used IFS’ methods of breaking a person down into parts to study their hurts and good qualities to study Jay Gatsby, the main character,” said Kimzey. “I then compared the results I found to the conclusions from a more traditional Freudian-based psychological reading and argued that IFS gives a better and more redemptive understanding of literature and human nature than Freud does.”

Kimzey’s inspiration for her research came from a book given to her by her mother.

“We read The Great Gatsby and learned about various kinds of literary criticism in English seminar. At the same time, my mom had given me a book about IFS (Altogether You by Jenna Riemersma) to read for my own personal growth,” said Kimzey. “As we discussed psychological literary criticism in class, I wondered if you could apply IFS in that kind of literary setting, even though I had never seen it done before. IFS offers a lot of helpful insights and redemptive outlooks on life, and I was excited to see that it did the same for Gatsby too!”

Kimzey is a member of the Masterworks and Variations choir groups, a residence assistant, a tutor, and part of Sigma Tau Delta (English honors society) and Alpha Chi (honors society) groups. Following her graduation next year, Kimzey plans to spend time with her family and become an English teacher for grade school students. She will graduate in May of 2022 with a degree in English literature and a minor in history and graphic communications.

“Two of the things I’m looking forward to most are learning under Oxford’s tutorial system, which I’ve heard is really excellent,” expressed Kimzey. “…and the general atmosphere: cobblestones and arches and history and bells and crumpets and delicious chocolate and the legacy of theologians, writers, and other great men and women who have walked there before me.”

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