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April 5, 2019

Courtney Cox ’19 (front row, center) with her study abroad group in Oxford.

Asbury University Creative Writing major Courtney Cox ’19 was recently awarded the de Jager prize for outstanding academic performance during a semester abroad at the University of Oxford in England. Cox participated in the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford, a program of Scholarship & Christianity in Oxford (SCIO).

Cox, who serves as an editor of the Asbury Review, won the award for musicology essays she wrote in a British History and Culture course during the SCIO semester.

Cox’s semester abroad proved to be an incredibly enriching experience for her, and she was especially challenged to strengthen her skills as an essayist.

“I learned how to research in order to arrive at a thesis, whereas before I’d always chosen my thesis and then conducted research in order to prove it,” Cox said. “I spent days researching and taking notes on a topic before I even thought about starting the essay. I ended up knowing a lot more about each topic than I needed for the essay, which made me feel like a generally knowledgeable person about what I was writing about.”

The courses during her semester in Oxford were academically challenging, but ultimately helped Cox become a stronger writer and student.

“This was our first course of the semester, I’d never studied musicology before, and imposter syndrome was hitting hard, so I was really convinced the essays were trash,” Cox said. “I was really shocked that I’d received a de Jager award, but now I’m really excited about it!”

The de Jager prize has become a bit of an Asbury tradition as Cox is the third Asbury student to be awarded the prize. She follows after Priscilla DeFini ’15 and Jarrod Ingles ’14, and is among nine student awardees this year.

The de Jager prizes are funded by Geoffrey and Caroline de Jager, who have a longstanding commitment to academic excellence.

Dr. Chuck Gobin, English Department chair, is always happy to see his students succeed in academia, on and off Asbury’s campus.

“It feels great,” Gobin said. “It’s not a complete surprise because our majors perform very well each year on the Major Field Test in Literature, but it is affirming to know that we send our students to Oxford well prepared to participate in a rigorous program.”

In addition to her recent awarding of the de Jager prize, Cox also placed third in the Sarabande Books Flo Gault Student Poetry Prize for Kentucky Undergraduates. She will be reading her winning poem at the Sarabande’s Annual Pie Party event in Louisville, Ky. on April 12.

“Courtney is a gifted writer who is clearly motivated to work hard on her own,” Gobin said. “Having said that, we work hard to create a supportive writing atmosphere in our Creative Writing program, as well as to offer a variety of opportunities for our students to hone their craft. Courtney is already enjoying early success, and she has gained valuable editing experience as one of the editors of the Asbury Review.”

After her upcoming graduation, Cox hopes to work as a copywriter and plans to continue writing her own poetry and prose in her spare time. She encourages Asbury students interested in the SCIO Scholars’ Semester in Oxford to apply, even if they might be intimidated by the program’s academic rigor, as it proved to be an incredibly soul-stretching experience for her.

Learn more about Asbury University’s English Department.