Oregon fuels drive for student achievement

Oregon fuels drive for student achievement
Rhodes Scholar, Campbell Trophy winner found paths to success at the university

When Nayantara Arora heard her name, the world stood still.

“I think it’s the first time in my life that my jaw has unironically dropped,” the University of Oregon senior said, recalling the good news from last November 11 when she was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.

Less than a month later, Bo Nix had a stunning moment of his own. Oregon’s football quarterback was named recipient of this year’s Campbell Trophy, the nation’s premier scholar-athlete award.

“It was exciting,” Nix said. “To represent Oregon and our football team—it meant a lot.”

But for those familiar with the environment at the University of Oregon, this level of achievement by athletes and scholars is no surprise. 

“Our university culture encourages curiosity, drive, and leadership for all students, on the field and in classrooms,” said UO President Karl Scholz.

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Nayantara Arora

Rhodes Scholar

A first-generation Indian American who’s fluent in four languages (including Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu), Arora will pursue two master’s degrees at Oxford through her Rhodes fellowship—one in global health and the other in international health and tropical medicine.

Coming from a culture where elderly people are highly valued, Arora is particularly interested in the factors that affect people’s health as they age.

“What really impresses me about Nayantara is her drive and her passion. She has interests in both basic science and global health, and the combination of that knowledge will make her uniquely able to do the great things she wants to do.”
Ashley Walker, Professor of Human Physiology

Alongside Arora, the university had two other Rhodes finalists this year. The UO is the only West Coast school that offers the prestigious Stamps Scholarship (another honor Arora received) and, overall, awards more than $300 million in financial aid annually. It provides comprehensive advising and guidance as part of its laser focus on student learning and achieving.

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Bo Nix

Campbell Trophy winner

Oregon quarterback Bo Nix

Bo Nix is the second Duck to win the Campbell Trophy in five years. He was also a Heisman Trophy finalist and named the Pac-12 Conference’s football scholar athlete of the year. In January, he added to his accomplishments by being named a first-team academic all-American with teammate Bucky Irving. 

On the field, he had a record-setting season among college quarterbacks, leading the Ducks to the Pac-12 championship game and a top ten national ranking. 

Transferring to Oregon after graduating magna cum laude from Auburn, Nix found a supportive community that helped him excel in football and achieve his academic goals.

He and his wife also became energetic members of the Eugene-Springfield community, hosting football camps for kids, reading to school children and raising money for victims of ALS for every touchdown he scored.

“I’m from the South and even there everyone knows what the ‘O’ is and what it means. But when I got here, all the resources that Oregon has, it even surprised me."
Bo Nix, Campbell Trophy winner

Both students will be applying lessons learned at the UO to the next stops on their journey. 

“Perseverance is a great word to wrap up my college career,” said Nix, who’s preparing to enter the NFL draft and endure the highs and lows of competing in the pros. “You just gotta stay the course, keep the main thing the main thing, and always push and strive to be the best you can be, every day.”

Becoming a Rhodes Scholar and studying at Oxford has only increased Arora’s determination to make a difference in the world.

“It means that opportunities I don’t even know how to imagine yet are now open to me,” she said. “I feel more driven than ever to leverage what’s been given to me to accomplish my goals.”

“During their time at UO, Nayantara and Bo have each, in their own way, been a beacon for excellence, lighting the way for others,” Scholz said. “We look forward to seeing the impact they will have in the paths of their lives and upon the wave of students who follow their steps.”