Kate Colley ’18
Kate Colley ’18

It’s been a busy fall for Kate Colley ’18. A full course load for the chemistry major from Fredericksburg with a 3.92 GPA. Research work with her professor. And countless hours on the field hockey field, where the star midfielder has helped lead Longwood to an 11-5 record that is the best winning percentage in the program’s Division I era.

Add one more achievement to the list: She’s been nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship, a two-year fellowship to Oxford that is arguably the most prestigious award a college student can receive.

She’s believed to be Longwood’s first nominee for the scholarship—or at least the first for several decades. “It’s an honor to be the first person to submit a Rhodes Scholarship application from Longwood, but it seems almost natural,” said Colley. “There are a lot of fantastic students and professors at Longwood who challenge me every day, and the response I’ve gotten from faculty, administrators and the entire athletics department shows the kind of support system that is in place here.”

The Rhodes Scholarship funds two years of graduate study at the University of Oxford in England, the oldest English-speaking university in the world. Students who receive the scholarship join an elite and accomplished group of men and women that includes notable scientists, authors, academicians and political leaders. Criteria include outstanding academic achievement and character, and demonstrated leadership potential. Just 32 are chosen from the United States each year.

'There are a lot of fantastic students and professors at Longwood who challenge me every day ...'

KATE COLLEY ’18

Longwood Chief of Staff Justin Pope, an Oxford graduate who has been advising Colley, said it isn’t necessarily for lack of qualified applicants that Longwood has not been nominating students. In the years ahead, the hope is to create a pipeline of campus high achievers and groom them for the rigorous application process.

“It was Troy Austin [Longwood’s athletics director] who first identified Kate as a worthy candidate,” Pope said. “She is at the absolute top of her class academically, a committed student-athlete and team leader, and a delightful person who really loves and appreciates Longwood’s community and embodies the ideals of a citizen leader. However this application process plays out, she has a great future ahead of her.”

At press time, Colley was waiting to hear if she had advanced to the next stage of consideration, where finalists from the state and region are interviewed in person.

Colley is applying for a research-based graduate program in pharmacology at Oxford. Her research at Longwood—devising a faster and better system for determining potentially harmful changes in molecules that are being considered for prescription drugs—is important for any student who wants to seriously study pharmacology, said Dr. Sarah Porter, Colley’s faculty research mentor. “She’s learning what factors go into designing new pharmaceuticals and the extremely complex mechanisms that make these drugs work— or not work,” Porter said.

Colley’s determination and grit are also highly visible on Longwood’s field hockey turf.

“She is the type of player every coach dreams about—the quiet kind of leader who does everything I ask without complaints,” said field hockey head coach Iain Byers. But she’s a leader off the field, too. Everyone on the team knows how hard she works in the classroom and that she holds all of them to as high a standard as she does herself.”

 

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