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Wofford has two Rhodes Scholar finalists

Upstate student-athletes reach interview stage for prestigious award

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Rachel Woodlee of Greer and Brian McCracken of Anderson will interview the weekend before Thanksgiving for the opportunity to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two Wofford College students, both from Upstate South Carolina, are finalists for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and are headed to St. Louis, Mo., for interviews for the selection of the scholars the weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Brian Novak McCracken of Anderson, S.C., and Rachel Marie Woodlee of Greer, S.C., are both student-athletes at Wofford – McCracken is a member of the varsity track and field team while Woodlee is a volleyball player. 

Wofford also had a Rhodes Scholar finalist in 2011 in Joseph Hiram McAbee of Woodruff, S.C. 

McCracken and Woodlee are among the dozen finalists selected in District 12 for the scholarship selection, which encompasses South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri. They are competing against nearly 200 national finalists from a pool of about 830 applicants from more than 300 American colleges and universities for the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award in the world. 

In the end, 32 students will be selected for the Rhodes Scholar Class of 2013, who will attend the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead. The Rhodes Trust, a British charity established to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes, provides full financial support for the Rhodes Scholars to attend Oxford. The first American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904. 

McCracken is spending this academic year as one of Wofford’s two inaugural Presidential Global Studies Scholars, selected this spring by President Benjamin B. Dunlap. He is taking time off from his overseas travel to attend the interview portion for the Rhodes Scholarship.

A senior with a double major in government and economics, with a minor in religion, McCracken is a graduate of Westside High School in Anderson and is the son of Bob and Sue McCracken of Anderson. He was a Boys State Scholar and a Palmetto Fellow. He has served as assistant director of intramurals at Wofford. He has been an intern in the office of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and in the law offices of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. He also has been a student assistant on an archaeological dig in Huqoq, Israel, with Dr. Byron McCane, the Albert C. Outler Professor and chair of the department of religion. McCracken also served as a vice president of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and is chair and former clerk of court of the Wofford Judicial Commission. This summer, he interned with the Ward Law Firm in Spartanburg and plans to attend law school after graduation. His Global Studies research project focuses on “Good Government at the Grassroots,” focusing first on South Africa and then on Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya. He also is a Dean’s List student.

In track and field, McCracken was 12th in the 2011 and the 2012 Southern Conference Outdoor Championships in the discus and 11th in the 2010 championship. He was named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 and was named to the SoCon Spring and Winter All-Academic Teams in 2011 and 2012. He also made the All-Freshman track and field teams at the SoCon indoor and outdoor championships. He also was nominated as Rookie of the Year in Wofford Athletics during his first year. In high school, he earned varsity letters in soccer, football, and track and field. He also was a member of the Beta Club and was an AP Scholar.

Woodlee, also a senior, is majoring in business economics and Chinese and is a graduate of Mauldin High School. She is the daughter of Timothy and Joan Woodlee of Greer. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

So far in the 2012 volleyball season, Woodlee has started 20 of 26 matches, is third on the team with 289.5 points, and is second with 258 kills. In 2011, she started all 33 of the team’s matches and was second on the team with 266 kills and a 2.40 kills per set average. She was second on the team with 33 points and three points per set. She earned Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll honors in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and was named to the SoCon Fall Academic All-Conference Team in 2010 and 2011.

Woodlee was a four-year varsity started at Mauldin High School and earned 2009 4A All-State honors as well as Region II 4A All-Region. She received the Martin Luther King Award for Excellence in Athletics and was awarded the Maverick Award for Leadership in Volleyball in 2007. She lettered in basketball as well. She was a member of the National Honor Society, was an AP Scholar with Distinction and served as a Junior Marshal in 2007. She was named a Palmetto Fellow in 2008.