SCIO Announces Hilary 2023 Prize Winners

SCIO is delighted to announce Hilary Term 2023’s Prize winners. The prizes are awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence in their research essays, British Culture seminars, or overall academic performance throughout the term (the Alumni prize). 

Hilary’s awardees include:  

Alumni Prize 

  • Lydia Camp

Research Essay 

  • Jerica Barkley (for excellence in her Research Project and Primary Tutorial)
  • James Castillo (for excellence in his Research Project and Secondary Tutorial)
  • Casey McDowell (for excellence in her Research Project and Primary Tutorial)
  • Alexandra Shehigian (for excellence in her Research Project and Primary Tutorial)

 British Culture 

  • Courtney Heidorn (for excellence in the British Culture Course and Primary Tutorial)
  • Sydney Motl (for excellence in both Primary and Secondary Tutorials)


A few of the prize winners shared a bit about their work and the reasons why they find it important…

  • In her research essay, Casey McDowell (Regent University, VA) analysed social anxiety and its interwoven relationship with self-presentation. McDowell explains:  

I was inspired to write my research paper on social anxiety by the self-presentation unit in my social psychology primary tutorial. In my paper I propose a new theoretical model of social anxiety that addresses the disorder’s relationship with guarded self-presentation. The implications of my model are that people with social anxiety would tend towards blending in with their social environment. Taking on the topic was intimidating, but I greatly enjoyed the opportunity SCIO gave me to deeply research a topic in which I was personally invested. I got to research what I was curious about and also put to practice my love of drawing diagrams.

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  • Sydney Motl (Ouachita Baptist University, AR) received her award for excellent, original essays in both her primary and secondary tutorials. With regards to her experience studying in Oxford, she states:

I received my award for my primary and secondary tutorials, Writing Feminists/Feminisms and Postcolonial Literature respectively. I chose these two tutorials when I first applied to SCIO because I want to earn my doctorate in literature with an emphasis on gender and race. These tutorials were my first opportunity to truly study literature in the fields that I was interested in, focusing on issues of social justice and enabling me to have conversations with experienced academics who gave me a deeper sense of the topics I wanted to study. Receiving this award validated my love for these subjects and reaffirmed my desire to continue studying them. 

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  • Lydia Camp (Belmont University, TN) was awarded the Alumni Prize. She describes her experience of Oxford like this:

Oxford appears to be on a different plane of reality. Plenty of scholars and authors have emphasized the city’s uniqueness; fellow American Nathaniel Hawthorne agrees that “the world surely has not another place like Oxford.” Yet, experiencing Oxford’s daily rhythms differs greatly from simply hearing about it. Cycling to centuries-old libraries, debating an author’s intentions with an experienced tutor, and tinkering on an in-depth research project on postcolonial theory are only glimpses of the city’s otherness. Through experiences like these, I learned not only from my tutors but also from my fellow peers over daily communal dinners, walks to the Vines, or runs through the city’s winding streets. I worked furiously but intentionally, gaining confidence to produce a higher quantity and quality of writing than I previously had attempted. My tutors encouraged me to critically analyze the world around me, a skill I hope to develop further as I return to Oxford in the fall. 



  • Courtney Heidorn (Azusa Pacific University, CA) was awarded a prize for her performance in the British Culture course. She explains:

Studying Writing Feminisms followed by Prohibition and Transgression in the 18th and 19th Century British Novel with Dr. Alice Stainer was a formative academic experience. I discovered that proto-feminist up to contemporary feminist literature is wrought with the battle for sexual expression and identity, a theme that is also displayed in Victorian Gothic literature. It was fascinating to trace the similarities between the feminist exploration of sexuality under the patriarchy and Gothic repression of sexuality under earnest Victorian culture. I particularly enjoyed exploring the thread of sapphism that runs through Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and the fear of human sexuality in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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  • Jerica Barkley (John Brown University, AR) describes her experience like this:

My research essay addressed the question of how intergenerational PTSD might be understood as a clinical model for American Indian and Alaskan Native historical trauma. The term “historical trauma” was developed by clinical psychologists to reveal the lasting and multi-layered effects of colonization on Indigenous communities in North America and Alaska, but has yet to yield a clinical model for the transmission of this trauma, thus blocking potential treatment. I proposed a solution to this issue by wedding historical trauma to the nuanced phenomenon of intergenerational PTSD. I originally received the idea for this research from my primary tutor, Dr. Farias, as we were discussing the weaponization of Christianity against native peoples in our tutorial, the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. Serving the marginalized and oppressed is my life’s calling and heart’s desire. Before my semester with SCIO, I would never have imagined my academics could be utilized to advance humanitarian aid! I am so thankful for this semester and experience, for all the faculty and staff who helped me along the way, and I am honored to be a recipient of the de Jager award!



  • Alex Shehigian (Messiah College, PA) was awarded a prize for her performance in the Research Project. She describes her experience as follows:

This past Hilary Term, I took History of the British Isles IV, 1500-1700. The tutorial afforded me the opportunity to explore England’s religious, economic, social, and political history, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for my host country. I was challenged to dissect traditional narratives and bring new ideas to the table, really allowing me to develop my own voice as a writer. I also contributed to the Bodleian Library’s ongoing Women and Maps project. Over the course of the term, I wrote a series of historiographical essays and developed a digital museum exploring the complicated relationships between women and cartography throughout history. The essays will serve as section introductions in a special edition of the Cartographic Journal with contributions from scholars from across the globe recently featured in The Oxford Seminars in Cartography (TOSCA). Writing towards publication in an academic journal was a new experience for me, and it has enhanced my ability to analyze a variety of sources, write professionally, and collaborate with experts in the field to create a meaningful final product.


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SCIO wishes the prize winners a very happy and successful future!

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