Nine BestSemester Students Awarded Prizes for Exceptional Performance at Oxford

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OXFORD, United Kingdom - BestSemester's Scholars' Semester in Oxford has awarded nine spring 2012 students with deJager prizes for exceptional academic performance.

Prizewinners are:

  • Benjamin Baker from Houghton College in Houghton, N.Y.
  • Jessica Barnett from Messiah College in Grantham, Pa.
  • Victoria Chandler from Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.
  • Philip Derbesy from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho
  • Christoph Sanz from Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada
  • Kelsey Shaw from East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas
  • Casey Smedberg from Gordon College
  • Nate Van Wyck from Messiah College
  • Jessica Yu from Gordon College

In addition to the honor of the prize, students also receive a $50 cash award for each prize. This spring's prizewinners are receiving the deJager prize's inaugural awards. Normally, up to 10 prizes will be awarded at the end of each Scholars' Semester in Oxford semester, though this spring two students received two awards each, making a total 11 prizes awarded. Following each Oxford Summer Programme, up to three deJager prizes are awarded.

All SSO and OSP students in good standing are automatically considered for prizes. Essays written for the three SSO courses-integrative seminar, British studies, and thesis-are evaluated for scholarly excellence by SSO faculty, and particularly meritorious essays are judged winners in each of the three categories. Winning essays show originality of conception, ease in handling primary and secondary sources, professional handling of scholarly apparatus, lucid and stylistically appropriate prose, a sustained argument, and effective rebuttal of counter arguments.

Philip Derbesy and Nate Van Wyck produced outstanding essays in two categories and hence won two prizes following the spring SSO semester.

"When I look back on Oxford, I realize that just about everything I did helped me grow both intellectually and spiritually," noted Van Wyck. "From my wonderful conversations with tutors, to the dozen lectures I attended each week, to the long hours I spent reading whatever book I wanted to in the library, to the exciting thoughts I had just looking around the beautiful old city, to the unforgettable chats I had with great friends back at the house, everything that happened at Oxford was significant, and I would love to do it all over again."

"When thinking back over what I learned from the two semesters that I was a part of the SCIO programme, I keep coming back to one thing: I am a Christian, and I am also a scholar. I have always logically known that the two are not mutually exclusive, but my time in SCIO has truly made me believe that an academic life is not only acceptable for a Christian, but that it is actually a God-given calling," said prizewinner Smedberg. "There is something very beautiful and fulfilling in the realization that while I know very little, God has equipped me for a life in which I might bring glory to Him by endeavoring to learn more. I credit my Oxford experience for helping me to truly comprehend that."

"We are delighted to recognize the achievement of these students who impressed us with their application and intellectual ability. We believe that study at Oxford is of great benefit to all academically able students and hope that these prizes help the students by acting as a mark of their outstanding achievement as they plan their future careers," said Stan Rosenberg, director of the Scholars' Semester in Oxford and Oxford Summer Programme.

The Scholars' Semester in Oxford, which is for students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and Oxford Summer Programme, which welcomes a wider range of students, give students from CCCU colleges and elsewhere a chance to experience the intellectual challenges of a world-class research university. When studying at SSO, students are members of Wycliffe Hall, one of the University of Oxford's 44 constituent colleges and halls. SSO students are also on the Register of Visiting Students of the University of Oxford, which gives them rights to use University libraries and other facilities and attend University lectures. All OSP students are associate members of Wycliffe.


About BestSemester: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities offers 12 off-campus study programs, collectively branded BestSemester®, which expand learning opportunities for students from CCCU campuses and are designated as culture-shaping or culture-crossing programs. Culture-shaping BestSemester programs are: American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.); Contemporary Music Center (Nashville); Los Angeles Film Studies Center (Los Angeles); and Washington Journalism Center (Washington, D.C.). Culture-crossing BestSemester programs are: Australia Studies Centre; China Studies Program; India Studies Program; Latin American Studies Program; Middle East Studies Program; Programmes in Oxford; and Uganda Studies Program. for program details.

About the CCCU:  The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 172 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 118 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 54 affiliate campuses from 19 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council's mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit