Bridget Wiede, ’12, never imagined that she would be heading to Oxford University for graduate school after four years at the University of Richmond. 

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” she recalls. “I knew I wanted to major in leadership studies because it was interdisciplinary and I didn’t have to shut the door on any one subject. I thought it was a unique program and one that would offer me valuable life skills.”

Beyond that, she says, she wanted to leave the door open. 

A yearlong study abroad experience at Oxford during her junior year helped her figure out her path – and her honors research project. 

A history minor, she found herself drawn to specific topics at the intersection of the two disciplines. “I took tutorials ranging from Napoleon to the civil rights movement. I did a tutorial on [social activist] Marcus Garvey, and that’s how I came up with my honors thesis topic.”

She called her academic adviser from England to say that she was changing her topic to focus on Garvey.

“She has done with her research what few graduate students do, let alone undergraduates,” says Dr. Tom Wren, her thesis adviser. “It’s a terrific thesis, one of the best I have seen in 20 years at the University.”

That research experience, as well as working as a research assistant during her senior year for another leadership studies professor and being on the Ethics Bowl Team, will help her at Oxford, she says.

She plans to pursue a master’s degree in U.S. history. “I really want to look at history through the lens of leadership. I realized I like looking at the smaller players in history and the underdogs to see how they were leaders.”

While she was studying abroad at Oxford, one of her professors wanted to know more about leadership studies. “I think that made me realize for the first time how lucky I am that leadership studies is offered at Richmond,” she says.

Some people ask her why she is pursuing a master’s in U.S. history in another country. She has an answer ready for them. “I think it will offer a really global perspective to U.S. history. I like looking at it in the context of world history. And it’s just a beautiful city.”

As for the future, she plans to pursue a doctorate and teach or do administrative work in academia.

But she’s leaving the door open.