Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Let Oxford Be Oxford

Written by: on December 8, 2023


My journey towards academic success was far from typical. Growing up, my environment didn’t exactly celebrate intellectual prowess. Being too bright was perceived as distancing oneself from their roots, leading to a sense of alienation. You were often accused of “forgetting where you came from.” This greatly influenced my formative years as a young man. To blend in, I consciously dimmed my intellect, a choice that provided social ease but stunted my academic growth. I vividly remember undergoing an intelligence test at my grandmother’s insistence, thinking it would open doors to “extra” classes. She was a schoolteacher and was very concerned with my lack of progress in school. The results revealed the truth – I had been underplaying my capabilities. Despite my grandmother’s newfound awareness, my habits persisted. My high school journey ended with a modest 1.9 GPA, and my initial college attempts led to dropping out of both community college and university. During this time, I was never really allowed to be myself because of the barriers and handcuffs I placed on myself because of my environment.

The year 2014 marked a turning point for me. Having left my hometown a few years earlier, I was trying to discover my identity beyond my upbringing. I had a daughter at this time and I wanted to do better for her. This was when I decided to return to school, driven by a desire for self-improvement rather than external expectations. This second academic endeavor (probably my third endeavor) was transformative. Unburdened by the need to fit a preconceived mold, I flourished, completing college in 2017, followed by a master’s program, and then embarking on this doctoral journey.

What Does This Have To Do With Oxford?

Reflecting on this transformation, my thoughts often turn to what I continued to hear about Oxford. Dr. Clark frequently advised, “Let Oxford be Oxford,[1]” wise words that made me consider what I might miss if I didn’t embrace the whole Oxford experience. I was determined not to let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip away.

Delving into Oxford’s history[2], I was captivated by the role of storytelling in forging a community’s ethos. In “The Secret History of Oxford,” Paul Sullivan humorously notes, “Over the years, there have been various theories, some comical, some plausible, all appropriately enough without foundation.[3]” This insight highlighted the importance of understanding and valuing the narratives that shape a community. These tales serve as a foundation for leaders to guide their communities in reflecting on the past, building on it, and creating new stories.

I also learned that Oxford, affectionately dubbed the “City of Spires,” is celebrated for its breathtaking skyline, adorned with an array of Gothic towers and steeples, mostly belonging to its ancient university, the oldest in England. This intriguing, lesser-known aspect of the city captivated me.


Yet, through all of the learning of history, a persistent question arose in my mind: What stories remained untold in Oxford’s history? Who were the unheard voices that significantly impacted the institution yet remained unrecognized? Who, like me, came to this place downplaying what they could actually do academically? I held these thoughts in my mind as I allowed Oxford to be Oxford.

[1] Dr. Clark, during a Zoom meeting.

[2]The Secrets of Oxford’s Streets | And What Lies Beneath the University,” YouTube video, 11:19, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jck5VOnNL0s.

[3] Paul Sullivan, The Secret History of Oxford (Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2013), Scribd edition, [https://www.scribd.com/read/318629757/Secret-History-of-Oxford], [8].

About the Author


Daron George

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4 responses to “Let Oxford Be Oxford”

  1. Michael O'Neill says:

    Wow. Great story, Dr. George. You have come a long my friend. Keep being you. It’s a good thing to be!

  2. mm David Beavis says:

    Thank you Daron for probing this question: Who are the unheard and unrecognized amid a prestigious institution? Great work Daron. I am grateful to have been on this academic journey with you.

  3. Those are haunting questions to ponder, Daron. Thank you for raising them. If you look back upon your Oxford journey, is there someone (or someplace) you wish you would have asked those questioins of while you were there?

  4. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Daron – Thank you for sharing this story. I love the reframe, “Let Oxford be Oxford.” This is great advice to keep us present in all situations and stages in our life. I have a tendency to get in a hurry and live for the next thing. I’ve dont that most obviously in my academic journey just focusing on what I needed to do to finish. This is the first time I have invested in relationships and it has been more rewarding than I anticipated. Thank you for the reminder.

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