California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Rhodes Scholar Finalist Senior Sonora Carroll is Living Her Purpose

‘I felt like I belong here’: When senior Sonora Carroll interviewed for the elite Rhodes Scholarship in Seattle, she discovered that almost all of the other candidates came from Ivy League schools.  Photo by Katie May- Photojournalist.
‘I felt like I belong here’: When senior Sonora Carroll interviewed for the elite Rhodes Scholarship in Seattle, she discovered that almost all of the other candidates came from Ivy League schools.
Photo by Katie May- Photojournalist.

When senior Sonora Carroll found out she had placed in the top 16 of her region out of hundreds of applicants for the elite Rhodes Scholarship, she was overwhelmed with pride.

“I think I dropped to my knees and just cried,” Carroll said.

A political science and criminology and criminal justice double major, Carroll was the first California Lutheran University student to apply for the scholarship. Only 32 U.S. students win each year and receive full tuition for postgraduate study at Oxford University in England.

“I decided I would love to go get my master’s in public policy before or after law school, and the Rhodes Scholarship is a fully funded way to do that at the best university in the world,” Carroll said.

The Rhodes Scholarship divides the country into 16 regions, with two winners per region. Carroll said she chose to apply in district 14, the Pacific Northwest region, as she is originally from Seattle.

One of many of the application’s requirements is securing the endorsement of the applicant’s university. Carroll was able to secure that endorsement with the help of political science professor Haco Hoang and criminal justice professors Helen Lim and Schannae Lucas.

“It’s a shot in the dark if you’re going to get it or not,” Carroll said.

In the next stage of the application, Carroll headed to a skyscraper in Seattle for several days of interviews. Carroll said only about four out of the 16 candidates who made it to the interview stage were not from Ivy Leagues. 

Her time in Seattle began with a luncheon with other candidates and the judges.

“I think that was the first time I felt like I belong here. I didn’t feel like I was from little Cal Lu, I felt like I was Sonora and I belong to be sitting at the table with all of those other people,” Carroll said.

After the luncheon, randomized time slots for individual interviews were assigned. Carroll was given the last interview of the 16 candidates.

“I think I did pretty good- I held my own. I enjoy talking about what I study, I enjoy talking about what I want to do with my life,” Carroll said.

After concluding individual interviews, four hours of deliberation took place and the judges selected two winners.

“The two girls who won were fantastic,” Carroll said.

Although Carroll was not awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, she plans to apply again next year.

Hoang, one of the professors who helped Carroll apply, described Carroll as an interested and committed student.

“She is very intellectually curious,” Hoang said. “I think she really is just a good example of the mission of the university: discovering and living your purpose.”

Another person who was there every step of the way was Carroll’s roommate, senior Charlie Biegalski. The two met while studying abroad in Oxford in fall 2017.

“She is someone who is very outgoing and passionate about everything she does…everyone really admires her for her dedication to everything she puts in front of her,” Biegalski said.

Beyond academics, Carroll is the senior resident assistant for Mogen Hall and the Old West complex. She is also involved in the theatre arts department and has appeared in several Cal Lutheran productions.

Carroll will graduate in May and plans to take two years off before she applies to law school. During that time, she wants to work and pursue jobs within the legal field.

“I’m currently attempting to get onto Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, as well as trying to get a job with a non-governmental organization,” Carroll said.

Carroll said her end goal is to become a federal judge. For now, she said she sees her “vocation in life” as speaking up for people who need a voice.

“I am proud of myself. I think everybody, including myself, can grow. I know I’ve made mistakes. I know I can grow as a person. Everybody has flaws…if you can accept your flaws and attempt to change them, that’s the most powerful thing you can do… that’s the only way you’re going to be great,” Carroll said.

McKenna King
Reporter

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