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Dallas native attending Duke University and studying English Reformation named Rhodes scholar


DALLAS — A Dallas native studying the role of women in the English Reformation has won a prestigious Rhodes scholarship, joining 31 other students who will study at Oxford University.

Laura Roberts of Duke University was announced as a Rhodes recipient Sunday.

Roberts has researched the religious roles of women during the 16th-century English Reformation, when the Church of England broke from the Catholic Church.

Roberts told The Associated Press she studied the Reformation as a college freshman and quickly became interested in England. Her writing on the nuns of one British abbey was published by the Cornell Historical Society this year.

She said she found surprising examples of nuns shaping British culture and serving in leadership roles during a time of cultural upheaval.

"There were really vibrant communities that afforded women these opportunities that they wouldn't have otherwise had in society, at least institutionally," Roberts said.

Roberts is majoring in history with a double minor in religion and political science, and serves as vice president and director of campus affairs for the university international relations association.

Roberts applied to the Rhodes scholarship in part to access primary sources available only in England. She plans to complete a master's degree before going to law school and pursuing a career in international human rights law. She hopes to one day become ambassador to the United Nations.

"The field of human rights is so new, and so I think there's a lot to be learned from the lessons of the past," she said.

Roberts is one of two Duke students to be named Rhodes scholars. The other is John Ruckelshaus of Indianapolis.

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