Last year, Naomi Mburu became the first Rhodes Scholar in UMBC’s history. A few weeks ago, she traveled to England to begin her graduate studies at Oxford University as part of the 115th Rhodes cohort. Here, she reflects on the transition to Oxford.
My time in Oxford has been very busy, but quite exciting and full of new adventures! I started my journey to Oxford in New York City, where I met all of the other American Rhodes scholars, along with two Caribbean Rhodes scholars and one Chinese Rhodes Scholar who are living in the US. During the weekend, we attended Hamilton on Broadway and met some of the cast, and had many networking opportunities with Rhodes Alumni including a meet up with female Rhodes alumni living New York City.
When we arrived at Oxford, we met up with all of the other Rhodes Scholars from around the world. There are over 90 Rhodes Scholars from all over the world this year! We mixed and mingled with each other, and the older Rhodes Scholars who are still at Oxford. It has been really nice to have this community of Rhodes Scholars during this big transition to England. We even had a dinner for all of the Rhodes Scholars on campus studying engineering! Having a built-in support group full of friendly faces makes being in a foreign place much less intimidating!
The next week was Oxford's official Fresher's Week, where we had many opportunities to meet the other students in our college, departments, and across Oxford. The city of Oxford is an incredibly beautiful city with a rich history. Oxford is split into 38 colleges, and I chose to live in the oldest one! It was founded in 1249, and it is called University College. The college system provides another sense of community within Oxford, in addition to your department and any other organizations you are part of (such as Rhodes). The Kofo Collective is a cultural organization that I recently joined, and we had a nice brunch together to kick off the term. The week ended with matriculation, where we dressed in graduation clothes and were formally deemed students of the University of Oxford.
I work in the Osney Thermofluids Laboratory, which is a subset of the engineering science department here. The lab is very interdisciplinary, and most of the research projects are sponsored by industry partners. My research is focusing on developing in thin film, liquid metal cooling system for a nuclear fusion reactor, and I am working with an industry sponsor in the area that is focusing on making nuclear fusion reactors! I really enjoy the practicality of the work that I am doing. Some of the students in my research lab put together a Black Panther themed science event for kids that I was able to help out with, which was a really fun way to get to know the greater Oxford community and teach a diverse group of kids about science.
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