Charlie Tyson, fourth-year College student and executive editor of The Cavalier Daily, was recently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. The College Topics Blog recently spoke with Tyson about the honor, his plans for study at Oxford and the influence the newspaper had on his nomination.
Why did you apply for the Rhodes Scholarship?
I’m interested in British thought, culture and literature, so I wanted to study in the U.K.—and I figured there was no better way to do it than the Rhodes! So I thought I’d give it a shot. I also wanted time to distill my guiding interests before applying to a Ph.D. program.
Many other things attracted me to the scholarship: above all, the prospect of spending two years abroad (I’ve had very few chances to travel) and the chance to meet some fascinating people and work with some of the world’s top scholars.
I knew from the start that it was a long shot. But I had some wonderful professors and friends who encouraged me.
I also competed for the Marshall scholarship, a similar program that finances postgraduate study in the U.K. I declined the Marshall to accept the Rhodes.
Did your work at The Cavalier Daily position you well to win the Rhodes Scholarship?
Yes. I would not have received the Rhodes had it not been for The Cavalier Daily. The Rhodes Trust was very interested in the work I’ve done on the paper. Committee members were particularly impressed by the paper’s coverage of the June 2012 ouster and reinstatement of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan (which I don’t deserve sole credit for, I hasten to add—a few others, especially Krista Pedersen, were remarkable!).
My work on the CD also convinced them that I could move between the world of academia and the public realm: that I could discuss ideas in a way that would excite general readers.
For an aspiring writer, there’s no better place at U.Va. than The Cavalier Daily.
I’ve also learned so much from my friends at the CD—we’ve got some smart folks on staff, and the late-night conversations in the office are always thought-provoking. I’m very inspired by my colleagues on the paper, especially my fellow managing board members (Kaz Komolafe, Caroline Houck, Meghan Luff and Kiki Bandlow). I admire them tremendously.
What was the reaction of your friends and colleagues at The Cavalier Daily?
I interviewed Saturday morning in DC, and I found out that afternoon that I was one of two winners for my district.
I thought I was going to be stuck in DC until Sunday evening—that was the earliest train back to Charlottesville that I could find.
My best friend surprised me by driving all the way to DC to bring me back to Charlottesville that night to celebrate.
The CD staff was having a get-together on the Lawn, in our editor-in-chief Kaz Komolafe’s room, and they swarmed me with a group hug. The next day some editors brought a congratulatory cake into the office.
How lucky I am—to have such incredible friends at U.Va. to learn from and laugh with.
What are your academic plans for study at Oxford?
I plan to do two one-year master’s degrees: one in literature, another in history.
Do you plan to participate in any extracurricular activities or engage in any student journalism while at Oxford?
I haven’t yet worked out which extracurricular activities I want to explore. I think I’ll be taking a break from student journalism, although I hope to keep writing in some capacity. I’ll definitely be lacing up my running shoes to explore the trails around Oxford.
Mostly I’ll be exploring, and I hope to keep myself as open to new experiences as possible. I hope to see a lot of live music, travel around Europe, have as many conversations as possible, read a lot of books, and strike up friendships with my classmates at Oxford.