Appetite for new cultures spawned her global journey
Kristin Buhrow acquired a taste for her career direction growing up in the Midlands of South Carolina. But little did the daughter of two accountants realize her interest in different cultures would lead her to a fellowship at Oxford University.
A May 2016 graduate, Kristin will receive dual degrees in anthropology and modern languages, with an emphasis in Mandarin Chinese.
“My interest in different cultures started at an early age in Lexington (S.C.). I didn’t grow up in a culturally diverse area, but there were small Korean and Indian communities that really caught my interest,” Kristin said. “I was introduced to those communities through Tae Kwon Do lessons and Indian dance.”’
Those childhood connections piqued her interest in learning about other cultures, which led her to Clemson and ultimately being recently named the recipient of an Ertegun Fellowship at Oxford in the United Kingdom. The two-year program, which begins in October, will see Kristin pursuing a master’s degree in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies.
“I decided early on accounting wasn’t going to become an important part of who I wanted to be. What worked for my mother, father and sister, wasn’t going to work for me.”
The opportunity at Oxford, and her likely career as a research professor, was spawned at Clemson inside and outside the classroom, where Kristin became a Clemson University National Scholar, achieved Phi Beta Kappa status and was the recipient of College of Business and Behavioral Science and departmental awards.
Kristin is quick to point out, a good part of her education took place beyond classroom walls. She was active in the Dixon Global Policy Scholars student program, was a writing fellow at the Academic Success Center’s writing center and a member of the Clemson Dholna cultural dance team.
“I’m convinced that where I’m at today is more about what I learned outside the classroom than inside. Those experiences, including Creative Inquiry, the University Professional Internship Co-op program, and dance team, to name a few, showed that I could apply to real life the knowledge I learned in the classroom.”
Kristin was one of 1,500 applicants who vied for 16 fellowships within Oxford’s 10 humanities institutes. The fellowship will pay stipends and tuition to the university’s Oriental Institute, where she plans to study conflict between Tibet and China, with an emphasis on the Tibetan refugee communities and traditional Tibetan culture.
“Kristin’s initiative and willingness to put in the hard work went a long way to her winning the coveted Oxford fellowship,” said Melissa Vogel, associate professor of anthropology in the College of Business and Behavioral Science. “But her passion for anthropology and a desire to better understand the Tibetan peoples’ plight were also determining factors.”
Not surprisingly, Kristin won’t remain idle between graduation in May and beginning studies at Oxford in October. Thanks in large part to a U.S. State Department critical language scholarship, Kristin will spend the summer studying advanced Mandarin in Xi’an, China.
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