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Woodlee named Rhodes Scholar

Wofford senior receives national honor

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Rachel Marie Woodlee, a Wofford College senior volleyball player from Greer, S.C., was selected Saturday for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and will attend the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom as part of the Class of 2013.

She is Wofford’s sixth Rhodes Scholar.

Woodlee and fellow Wofford student Brian Novak McCracken, a senior student-athlete from Anderson, S.C., both were invited to St. Louis, Mo., this weekend as two of the 12 finalists for the scholarship representing District 12 (South Carolina, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri). They competed 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.

McCracken is a member of the varsity track and field team.


“I’ve never been so excited about anything in my entire life,” Woodlee said Saturday by telephone after her selection. “This is such a life-changing experience. I looked around that room (at the other finalists) and I knew everyone there was deserving; everyone there will be hugely successful. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Wofford President Benjamin B. Dunlap said of Woodlee and her selection:

Rhodes Scholarship logo“’Fighting the world’s fight’ is what the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship said  he wanted its recipients to undertake. As a star athlete in volleyball – and before that, in basketball – Rachel knows all about fighting. As someone who has lived and studied in China and other distant lands, she knows a great deal about the world. And, as a Wofford student leader with a perfect academic record, as someone with wit and energy and verve, as a person intensely committed to the well-being of others, she is perfectly equipped to make this world a better place. All of us should rejoice, for I promise you, she will.” Dunlap himself was a Rhodes Scholar in 1959.

Woodlee is one of 32 students 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.

Woodlee 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.

As a sophomore, she took first-place in the beginning level of competition for the Palmetto Chinese Star Contest for proficiency in speech. She has been the recipient of several scholarships at Wofford, including the Charles E. Daniel Scholarship and the Ruth O. and Joab M. Lesesne Foreign Study Scholarship. She studied abroad in Beijing, China, at IES Abroad in the spring of this year; she also spent her first-year January Interim in China. She also has studied abroad in India, Peru, France and Germany, and plans a trip to Belize this January for Interim.

Woodlee has served as a Wofford Ambassador and a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

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 starter 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.

Last year, Wofford student Joseph Hiram McAbee of Woodruff, S.C., was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.

Wofford has had five previous Rhodes Scholars: John Lee Hydrick, 1908; J. Lyles Glenn, 1912; Edwin F. Mosley, 1916; John Q. Hill, 1947; and C. Edward Coffey, 1974.