Celebrating Our Graduates; Clemson University Honors College; College of Science

How her Clemson Experience led to becoming a Rhodes Scholar: Louise Franke, ’22


As she prepares to embark to Oxford as Clemson University’s first-ever student to win a Rhodes Scholarship, “magical” is how Louise Franke describes her four years on campus.

She credits much of that experience to her faculty mentors, who helped her transition to campus life during her first year and throughout her undergraduate degree. Franke describes Alison Starr-Moss in the Biochemistry department as an “angel,” introducing her to the department, listening to her ideas and serving as a trusted advisor.

Franke also met her closest friends on campus through two campus programs. The Dixon Global Policy Scholars program brings a select group of Clemson Honors students together to discuss broader policy issues. She also became a Lyceum scholar, through which students study liberty, the American Founding, capitalism, and moral character.

Getting to know students from other majors in both of these programs helped a big campus feel a bit smaller and more like home.

“All of a sudden I felt like I just got what Clemson was a little bit more, and what it meant to each of these people,” said Franke. “That confidence grew into my sophomore year, which was a period of seeing what I want with that new confidence and how I could use it. I was sending applications everywhere and figuring out where on campus I wanted to be involved.”

Those applications turned into several volunteer and leadership opportunities, including being part of a literary society on campus and serving as president pro-tempore of the Clemson Undergraduate Student Senate. William Lasser, executive director of the Clemson University Honors College, said those experiences — and her commitment to serving others — made Franke a stronger academic.

Louise won the most coveted academic scholarship in the world partly because she is a strong scholar, but what makes her truly exceptional is her understanding that the humanities can make her a stronger scientist. She is also just as focused on service as she is on academics, taking on extracurricular roles and projects that are focused on creating new opportunities for Clemson students to grow, both intellectually and as people.

Clemson University Honors College Executive Director William Lasser

One of those opportunities was a new student-led journal, called The Aurantiaco, led by fellow student (and Fulbright Scholar) Meredith Johnson. (Watch a video, below, of Franke talking about the experience of co-founding a publication.) The journal gives undergraduate students on campus the opportunity to publish and share critical writing on the humanities and social sciences.

“She and Dr. Thomas approached me, asking that I help co-found this new journal and serve as its editor in chief,” Johnson said. “I readily accepted the opportunity and am now extremely proud to have served in this role for the inaugural edition.”

When asked to reflect on her Clemson University experience, Franke said it’s the relationships that matter most.

“I don’t think I could have gone to another school and had ten professors that are great mentors and that I’d definitely be keeping up with after I graduate, from my knowledge of other friends at other schools. Not that there aren’t amazing professors at other schools, but there’s something about the atmosphere here that pushes people to be their best selves in some way.” Louise Franke

She is not certain she would have pursued a Rhodes scholarship at a different school, she continued, without the resources and people she had access to during her time at Clemson. 

Although she’s soon departing to England to pursue a B.A. in philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford this fall, Franke says that Clemson will long remain her home.

“As a whole, my Clemson experience is going to be the thing I look back on as my home – when all of your friends are together and all of your life is together in this bubble that is Clemson,” Franke said. “What makes the experience really magical is everyone’s really committed to making the most out of their four years.”

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