Mimi Ensley will take a step back in time to explore her literary interests.
Ensley won a $26,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship on Saturday that will allow her to dive into medieval literature at a college in the United Kingdom. She’ll tackle the adventure next fall after she graduates from the University of Georgia in May with degrees in English and journalism.
“It’s really hard to believe,” said Ensley, who interned at The Times this summer and now works as the news editor at
UGA’s student-run newspaper The Red & Black. “When I got the call Saturday, I was just in shock. I paced my room and called my mom and roommate. The next day, I sent an e-mail and asked if there were any other hurdles I’d have to pass with Rotary International.”
Ensley is set to go. She applied for the scholarship in the spring and attended all-day interviews in Gainesville on Saturday. She was surprised to hear back that evening.
“I had lunch with the scholarship director in Athens today, and he told me about the different factors they considered,” she said. “He appreciated the fact that I didn’t have as much travel abroad experience, and this would be eye opening for me.”
Ensley traveled to Cannes, France, during a Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication study abroad trip for about six weeks the summer after her sophomore year. Now she has a year to explore the U.K. and gave preference for York University or the University of Edinburgh.
“York is entrenched in history, and what better place to study medieval literature than where it happened?” she said. “I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to expand my focus on medieval literature beyond the English department.”
Ensley said she hopes to take her journalism interests to the U.K. as well.
“The scholarship is community-service based, so I’ll do a project with the local Rotary Club in that community,” she said. “I’m interested in freelance writing as well, whether that’s to record my experiences or do reporting for a local publication.”
Ensley received Rotary Club awards from the Dalton chapter in high school and heard about the ambassadorial scholarship from a Dalton Rotarian during her freshman year at UGA. She printed out the application and decided this year she had a true direction with her literary studies and professional goals.
“We’re very excited,” said Tom Richardson, co-chairman for the scholarship committee. “We hope she gets a lifetime of contacts, certainly seeing the world through different eyes and seeing a different situation through the eyes of others who she finds are more alike than different from her but still different.”
The scholarship was founded in 1947, and the Dalton chapter sponsored Ensley for the
interviews. The 6910 district, which covers the northern third of Georgia, nominated her as finalist for the scholarship.
“When she comes home, we hope she brings a better understanding of England as she meets and interacts with students from other nations and have a greater understanding of why they see things as they do,” Richardson said. “We hope she will be a spreader — one who spreads understanding in her career.”