WELLESLEY, Mass. -- -- Senior Heather Long has added a
Rhodes Scholarship to the honors she has accumulated at
The Rhodes Scholarship was created in
1902 by British philanthropist and colonial pioneer, Cecil
Rhodes. Long was chosen through
a three-stage process including an endorsement from Wellesley
and selection on a state and regional level. She competed
with 963 applicants, of whom about 32 will win the honor.
Scholars are selected based on high academic achievement,
integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect
for others, leadership potential and physical vigor, according
to scholarship information.
Long is thrilled to be a Rhodes
Scholar, saying, "It
feels like you won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Award
for academics. You never think you are going to get it
but when you do you are in shock for a couple of days.
It's wonderful. It's been a far-off dream to go to (the
University of) Oxford and study there. I'm particularly
interested in studying medieval literature and I am excited
to go to Oxford and study their extensive collection."
Long is especially gratified by this honor since reading
didn't come easily to her. As a child, she suffered from
learning disabilities and didn't learn to read until fourth
or fifth grade.
"So many people have helped me out in my life, particularly
my teachers," Long said. "My fifth-grade teacher
finally saw through it and actually suggested I might be
gifted. I always wanted to give back to people and my teacher
just said to me, 'Pass it on, just pass it on.'"
Long has been passing on the love of learning ever since,
particularly as a volunteer teacher of literature to women
behind bars. In fact, this work may have had the biggest
impact on her Rhodes Scholarship.
"A huge part of my Rhodes application was on working
in the prison system," said Long said, who began working
with women prisoners at the Massachusetts Correctional
Institute at Framingham as a first-year student at Wellesley. "I
helped them produce a newspaper and I won a Wellesley community
service grant to produce a special edition of a magazine,
Behind the Walls." With the help of another grant,
she founded the Wellesley Book Club, in which students
lead discussion groups in the prison.
"Literature helps them learn how to think critically," Long
said. "Only about 50 percent have graduated from high
school – but many of these women applied to the prison's
college program after learning to think in a deeper way.
It's been great to encourage people to go on in their own
The Rhodes Scholarship will support two years of study
at Oxford with a possible third year extension. "I
am hoping for second B.A. in English and modern history
from Oxford," she said. "That's a two year program,
and I am hoping to get a third year to get a master's in
English. I am interested in doing cultural studies, particularly
in economics and political analysis of literature."
Long, an English and economics major, is currently studying
at the University of Navarra, Spain, as a Rotary Ambassadorial
Scholar. She's been an intern for Pennsylvania Senator
Rick Santorum, authored a study on hate crimes for the
Pennsylvania attorney general's office and worked on the
Criminal Justice Task Force in Massachusetts. Earlier this
year she was named Wellesley's Katharine Malone Scholar;
she won the Malone Sophomore Prize in 2002.
The daughter of Charles and Carole Long of Mechanicsburg,
Pa., she has served as Student Bursar on the College Government
Cabinet and as a student representative to the Board of
Trustees' Finance Committee and the Budget Advisory Committee
to the President. She also has been a staff writer for
the student newspaper, The Wellesley News and Counterpoint
Her future plans seem to be as deep and wide as her interests
thus far. "I would like to teach English at the collegiate
level and behind bars to prison parolees," Long said, "as
well as become a college president one day."
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing
an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will
make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near
Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all
50 states and 68 countries.