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Self-described ‘connector’ discovers her true path, helps others find theirs
profile image of Sara Larson

Of all her experiences at Oxford, Sara Larson is most thankful for the opportunity to explore academically, socially and personally. She’ll take what she learned to the Atlanta campus and keep building connections on all levels.

— Photo by Kayleena Nguyen.

At Oxford College, Sara Larson is most thankful she found a place that allowed her to explore.

With graduation and a transition to the Atlanta campus on the horizon, Larson has been reflecting on the breadth of her discoveries during the last two years — not just relating to academic interests and career development, but also to who she is as a person.

She has learned what motivates her and what she wants to do in the world.

“I learned that I’m a connector,” she says. “I love meeting new people and connecting them to other people to help everyone get farther along on their own path.”

Larson has thrived across several Oxford roles: She was a member of the Peer Advising Network; she started a social media interview series called “Sophomore Secrets,” where second-year students shared life experiences; she was the social media manager for varsity athletics; and she was involved in OxFellowship, through which she started musical jam sessions that were eventually coined “The Gathering.”

Even beyond campus, she was a frequent volunteer at Best Friends Farm, a local animal rescue and rehabilitation sanctuary. There she made two dear friends: Walter the sheep and Marty the horse.

Sara Larson with Walter the sheep, one of the animals she worked with while volunteering at Best Friends Farm.

A marketing major soon to enter Goizueta Business School, Larson expects her “connector” traits will come in handy on the Atlanta campus and throughout her career. But her decision to major in marketing, as well as her understanding of her life trajectory and professional path, only came about through her willingness to try new things.

When Larson arrived at Oxford from her hometown of Hopkinton, New Hampshire, she was sure she wanted to study psychology. For summer 2023, she was awarded the prestigious Oxford Tarbutton Fellowship and received funds to travel to San Jose, Costa Rica, where she worked as a psychologist aide and second grade teacher.

Her intention was to learn more about child psychology, but she returned from the trip with a different sort of clarity than expected.

“Over that summer, I had a lot of time to reflect and realize that I am an extrovert and need to be with other people,” she says. “I wanted to give myself a space to think creatively and apply what I was learning in psychology and neuroscience to the world around me, so I switched to a marketing focus within the BBA program, where I can use marketing as a creative application of psychology and really mesh the things that I like together.”

Her goal now, she says, is to “apply a human- and brain-centered perspective to marketing in ways that promote social good.”

As Larson was figuring this out, she leaned on the resources provided by Oxford’s Advising Support Center, where she was a student worker and formed a close bond with Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs Lauren Braun — who was “like family,” Larson says.

Braun notes that Larson was an “amazing” student peer advisor, and that she used her own experience learning what she wanted to study to help others.

“She truly ‘got the assignment’ of what it meant to support incoming students,” Braun says. “She reflected on her personal experiences and used them to create meaningful programming. She also thought critically about the types of opportunities available at Oxford, and she wanted to create programs to highlight some of the hidden gems for incoming students.”

Scott Garner 90Ox 92C, an assistant professor in both the psychology and film/media departments, taught Larson in his Foundations of Media Psychology class and, like Braun, has high praise for her intellectual capacity and propensity for leadership.

“Sara has a curious nature,” he says. “She is always looking for ways to uncover answers, even if they are elusive or ephemeral. She has stepped out of the box as a student leader within both student and faculty ranks. In the fall semester of 2023, Sara volunteered to tour our guest lecturer around campus. It was a thrill to see her step up and forge a cross-generational connection. I have high hopes for her future.”

Garner’s class was another important moment in Larson’s journey, so much so that it led to a mentorship and a one-on-one directed research course on brand authenticity and long-term commitment.

“It really helped me start to see the intersection of marketing and psychology and gave me more confidence in pursuing that connection,” she says. “And Dr. Garner is just the best. He’s a true Oxford gem.”

At the start of her sophomore year, Larson challenged herself to remain present and make more intentional connections, from reducing her phone use to smiling at fellow students as she passed them on the quad. At Oxford, she found many faces smiling back and will most miss the campus’s strong sense of community — what she called “a big, interconnected, diverse family.”

Ever the connector, Larson is excited about the new faces she will see in Atlanta and exploring the depth of her major. It’s a move she describes as going from a generalist to a specialist.

“I think it’s going to be really intellectually stimulating for me, and I’m excited to see how my current connections will unfold and help me reach new people. I look forward to mentoring Oxford students, bridging the gap between the two campuses and engaging with alumni to hear and share their stories.”

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