By Kate Maddox
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2022) — University of Kentucky junior Rayleigh Deaton, a communication and political science major from Charleston, South Carolina, has been awarded an English-Speaking Union (ESU) Scholarship presented by the English-Speaking Union Kentucky Branch. The scholarship will cover Deaton’s expenses for summer study at the University of Oxford, where she will study English literature.
ESU scholarships are awarded for studies in English literature, history and social sciences at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge or Edinburgh. Scholarship winners, selected through an essay and interview process for the program, are expected to become articulate lifelong ambassadors for British/American cultural exchanges.
“The chance to travel and study abroad will help me gain a more holistic, global perspective on the world and current events,” said Deaton, the daughter of Tim and Becky Deaton, of Charleston. “I hope that this opportunity will give me a new view of the world and a unique experience that I can use in my writing.”
In addition to her double major, Deaton also minors in journalism. During her undergraduate studies, she has served as the editor-in-chief of the Kentucky Kernel, UK’s independent student-run newspaper. She also interned at the Lexington Herald-Leader as a reporting intern.
“I’ve always had a passion for writing and knew that I wanted to have a job that would allow me to write. In middle and high school, I loved writing research papers where I would take a wealth of information, dissect it and reassemble it in a cohesive and understandable way,” Deaton said. “Journalism allows me to learn more about the world around me, talking with different people and hearing about their lives, while informing the public.”
Deaton credits her academic adviser Schyler Simpson for inspiring her to apply for the ESU Scholarship and serving as a mentor throughout her college career.
“Every conversation I have with Schyler leaves me feeling so inspired and excited for the future, and I owe so much to her for where I am today,” she said.
Deaton also credits her success to her journalism professor, Jennifer Smith.
“I took Jen’s JOU 101 fall semester my freshman year, and from the first day of class, I knew that she was someone I wanted to get to know and learn from,” she said.
Deaton also plans to apply for the Fulbright and Rhodes Scholarship programs and hopes to earn her master’s degree in journalism in England. She says she is thrilled to visit the United Kingdom this summer to see if she would like to continue her education there.
The Kentucky Branch of the English-Speaking Union awards a limited number of scholarships to qualified Kentucky college students for courses offered at institutions in the United Kingdom. The Kentucky branch was chartered in 1923 by local business and civic leaders. Since 1964, more than 500 Kentucky teachers and college students have been awarded scholarships by the Kentucky branch of the ESU.
Deaton applied for the ESU Scholarship through the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence. The office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to contact the office well in advance of the scholarship deadline.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.