Mauldin, Wofford volleyball star earns Rhodes Scholarship
By Ann Green
The Greenville News
Published December 3, 2012
Volleyball player Rachel Woodlee is the first woman from Wofford to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
“The last time we had a Rhodes Scholar, Wofford was still a men’s college. That was 1974,” said the senior, who played volleyball and basketball at Mauldin High.
Beginning next fall, Woodlee will study at Oxford, England, for two years.
She is hoping she won’t have to leave volleyball behind as she concentrates on Chinese studies at Oxford.
“I already looked it up -- they do have club volleyball at Oxford,” Woodlee said. “I’m not sure if I’ll have enough time with my studies to play seriously, but I hope I can at least continue a few pickup games.”
When she learned she had won the Rhodes, she immediately notified her parents. But Wofford president Benjamin Dunlap, a former Rhodes Scholar, was next on her list.
“He was one of my biggest supporters through the entire process,” Woodlee said. “He was always willing to take time out of his busy schedule to help me.”
Thirty-two students from the United States won Rhodes Scholarships this year. The program seeks out well-rounded future world leaders. Applicants need to be involved in sports along with their pursuits in the classroom.
A huge plus on Woodlee’s resume, besides her Phi Beta Kappa credentials, is her world travel. She credits Wofford’s opportunities to study abroad for helping her with that.
She has been to China twice, India, Peru, France and Germany and will go to Belize this January.
China is her passion, however.
“When I went to China, I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d enjoy it,” she said. “I feel so many Americans have misconceptions about China and the way things are there and the Chinese people. When I was there, I felt so welcomed. It’s a fascinating place, something I want to share with people.”
When she takes her place as the sixth Rhodes Scholar from Wofford, it will be her first trip to England.
“There’s so much history there, so much famous architecture,” she said. “I want to walk around and get a feel for the place.”