Jacqui Nickell
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So excited was 2017 Lakehill alumnus Claire Crow that she bolted from her room and raced across campus to tell her mentors the great news: she had been one of only three out of over 550 applicants accepted to the PhD in English program at Yale University. Not finding her Medieval Studies mentor Stephanie Batkie in her office, she rushed without knocking into the office of her Victorian Studies mentor Maha Jafri and exclaimed, “I got in!” She and Dr. Jafri began literally jumping up and down for joy, and it was only when they hugged that Dr. Jafri realized she hadn’t had time to put on her mask. 
The year of Covid has been quite the journey for the Lakehill graduate. It began at the University of Oxford, where Claire was embarking on her studies as a fellow of Keble College, having been selected to attend through the Middlebury-CRMS Oxford Humanities program. Claire was forewarned not to yield early to the temptation to take trips across the Channel to other European countries, as she might fall behind in her studies. So Claire buckled down and worked hard with her tutors, studying Women and Literature and Medieval Philosophy, until March 10th, when she was informed she would have to return to the United States because of the pandemic. Claire was forced, like so many of us this past year, to work long-distance, but she powered through and completed her Oxford studies with distinction. Her Women and Literature tutor, Hannah Ryley, encouraged Claire to explore treatments of race and proto colonialism as well as women in medieval literature, and from this Claire found the subject she will explore at Yale. Because she so clearly defined her passion to its English department, Yale also appointed her to represent the English department in its Center for Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Studies, wherein she will be able to fund research projects and campus visits from distinguished scholars from around the world.
Claire never got to go to the European cities she really wanted to visit while in England, but her devotion to her passion has her poised to become a top scholar in her field. Being one, she will surely be able to travel the world when it opens again. Claire encourages Lakehill students to be fearless: "Do not allow hard work to scare you and never be afraid to seek the help you need." With mentors stretching from Dallas to Tennessee to England, Claire is proof that such an approach can take you wherever you want to go.
written by: Tim Hagood, Lakehill Upper School English Teacher
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