Elizabeth Butterworth ’07 Awarded Rhodes Scholarship

A story in the Sunday Worcester Telegram & Gazette profiles Worcester Academy's Elizabeth's Butterworth '07, who was awarded a 2012 Rhodes Scholarship.  The T&G story, “Scholar bound for other Oxford," by Jackie Reis, can be found on the newspaper’s website.

Worcester Academy’s Elizabeth Butterworth ’07, a Princeton University senior, has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship – the oldest, most celebrated international fellowship in academia.

A resident of Auburn, MA, and a Princeton classics major, she will attend Oxford University next fall along with 31 other Rhodes Scholarship recipients from around the world. According to Elizabeth, she hopes to further her passion for arts and education by “preparing to promote arts education as a route to civic awareness and engagement in learning."

In the future, Elizabeth said that she could imagine “running a city school system and translating my research into policy implementation.”

Shortly after graduating from Worcester Academy, Elizabeth began a music education program for children in the city of Worcester who were unable to afford lessons. She said she was motivated by her own experiences with the arts at the academy.

“I gained a lot of skills that apply to my work ethic now,” she said, of her time at WA. “I still look back on my experiences at Worcester Academy as some of my happiest and most rewarding, and certainly formative in my development as a student."

She noted that she loves to return to Worcester Academy whenever possible.

“During freshman year of college, I realized that visiting the Hilltop was as much a part of ‘coming home’ as sleeping in my own room,” she said. “Every corner of campus holds memories of friendship, of learning, of happiness. Being among the familiar faces of the Worcester Academy community is like coming home to a second family."

Princeton Assistant Professor of Classics Dr. Yelena Baraz praised Elizabeth Butterworth for both her academic achievements and for her outreach. Elizabeth, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, received Princeton’s Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence in both 2008 and 2010, as well as the Classics Department’s Charles A. Steele Prize. She gained experience as an educator by serving as a Latin tutor at Princeton, and as a tutor to children in afterschool programs in Trenton, NJ, and in Massachusetts. She has also been involved in managing theater productions on and off campus at Princeton.

“Liz combines maturity, creativity, intellectual rigor, and clarity of purpose in a way that is quite unusual in someone her age,” said Dr. Baraz. “At Princeton, she mastered Latin and Ancient Greek and authored provocative and original papers on Latin literature.

“It is to be admired that she now wants to put her talents to the service of studying education policy and of developing arts programs, something that many children and young people in this country can truly benefit from."

In addition to her work at Princeton, she is committed to bringing an international perspective to her work by building on her study-abroad experiences as an undergraduate, Dr. Baraz said. Elizabeth spent two summers working on field excavation sites in Europe, where she traveled to Gabii, Italy, in 2010, and to Nemea, Greece, the following year. The experiences (she wrote in her Rhodes application) were transformative.

“The heat was unbearable, my drinking water was the temperature of hot tea and sweat turned the dirt on my arms into mud,” she recalled. “Though I imagined reading Horace in the air-conditioned comfort of Princeton’s Firestone Library, I relished the daily physical connection to the diverse, thriving society that produced Italy’s literary geniuses. My delight in getting my hands dirty to uncover intersections between literature and culture rests at the heart of my new passion: education policy."

This is the third major scholarship earned by a Worcester Academy alumnus in the past two years. Previously Joel Specter '07 and Ben Simmons '08 were each awarded Goldwater Scholarships.

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. Each year, 32 young Americans are selected as Rhodes Scholars through a decentralized process representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Applicants from more than 300 American colleges and universities have been selected as Rhodes Scholars. In most years, even after a century of competition, a Rhodes Scholar is selected from an institution that has not formerly supplied a successful applicant.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but also for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.


Worcester Academy is a co-ed day and boarding school for grades 6-12 and postgraduates. Our urban setting, diverse community, and challenging curriculum provide students with a solid, real-world education. For more information, visit www.worcesteracademy.org.

To learn more about the Worcester Academy, contact Neil Isakson at 508-754-5302 x135, or email neil.isakson@worcesteracademy.org.

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