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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. Virginia volleyball player Sarah Kirkwood was selected as one of 15 finalists for the Rhodes Scholarship, an award that provides all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

Kirkwood interviewed in Birmingham, Ala., for the prestigious honor over the weekend and did not travel with the volleyball team to Maryland and Boston College.

The Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest and best-known award for international study, were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. Criteria for applicants include high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor.

“It was an amazing opportunity and I had an amazing weekend,” Kirkwood said. “I am very grateful for all the interesting people I had the pleasure of meeting. It was a good experience to be able to go through the interview process and I am honored to have made it so far.”

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university. Over 1,000 students each year seek their institution’s endorsement; this year, 764 students were endorsed by 294 different colleges and universities. Committees of Selection in each of 16 districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview.

Kirkwood, a native of Tampa, Fla., was chosen as a finalist from District 7. The fourth-year Lawn resident has a 3.9 grade-point average in cognitive science/pre-medicine at UVa and is scheduled to graduate in May. Kirkwood was considering pursuit of a master’s degree in neuroscience at Oxford.

The Rhodes Scholars were announced Nov. 17 after two rounds of interviews. Kirkwood made it through both rounds but was not selected as a recipient. Winners from District 7 were John Moore from the United States Naval Academy and Joseph O’Shea from Florida State University.

Kirkwood, a 2005 AVCA Honorable Mention All-American, is a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer and this season set program records for career kills, attack attempts and service aces. She also became the first player in program history to be selected as an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, an honor she has achieved twice.

Kirkwood and the Virginia volleyball team play the final home matches of the season this week. The Cavaliers will play host to Duke at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Wake Forest at 7 p.m. Friday.

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