Riverview 2020 Valedictorian Awarded Prestigious Oxford Scholarship

Riverview students go on to do great things, and Class of 2020 valedictorian Gillian Gaynor exhibits this excellence in spades!

Gillian was recently accepted as one of a select few from the United States in the prestigious Oxford Tutorial Program in England.

The yearlong program abroad at the University of Oxford will challenge Gillian in her biochemistry studies using the school’s rigorous tutorial system, which pairs a student with a scholar in their field of study to learn programs in detail.

“I was so surprised,” Gillian said of her acceptance. “You come to Notre Dame and everyone is so intelligent, so to be selected against all those people — I did not expect it at all."

Gillian, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, said she learned of the opportunity in class, but had doubts about applying due to her heavy course load and numerous upcoming exams.

“I felt like ‘I didn’t have time to apply for this,’” Gillian recalls, but remembered her brother studying abroad in high school and loving the experience, so she stayed up late and finished the application. Soon afterward, she received a request for an interview and was ultimately offered a spot in the tutorial program earlier this month.

Gillian’s success exemplifies Riverview’s commitment to student achievement in and out of the classroom, according to district Superintendent Dr. Neil English. “She took full advantage of her educational experience,” he said, noting her extensive athletic and academic record, all while giving back to her community.

“She represents the very best of what Riverview has to offer, proving what I have been saying for years, and that is this: Riverview offers a world-class education, allowing our students to not only compete, but out-compete with those from across our Commonwealth and beyond — and in Gillian’s case, worldwide,” Dr. English added. “Gillian’s acceptance into one of the most elite programs in the world is not only an attestation to her drive and ability, but an accomplishment that we can all celebrate, as our schools and communities continuously produce extraordinary young people.”

Gillian credits much of her success to her “small school” learning experience at Riverview. 

“I cannot begin to express my gratitude to Riverview and all of my amazing teachers who supported me academically,” she said. Going to Riverview’s relatively small school size allowed her to be closer with her teachers to excel in her subjects, she said. “I don’t think I would’ve been able to go to Notre Dame if I didn’t go to Riverview,” she said.

After her junior year at Oxford, Gillian will return to South Bend, IN to finish out her bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame. Following her expected graduation in 2024, Gillian plans on attending medical school for either oncology or anesthesiology as well as studying to be an OBGYN.

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