Alumni Profile: Julie Nelson

A Beautiful Balance

Nelson, second from right in front row, poses with sophomore leaders selected to mentor freshmen who will take part in Leadership Oxford this spring.

Julie Nelson 95OX 96C travels the globe in her role as southeastern regional wine and beer manager for World Market. However, even if she’s in Europe or Australia negotiating a major purchase, she never strays far from lessons she learned at Oxford College. Nelson’s connection to Oxford is as vital today as it was during her college years. This is her twenty-first year working with Leadership Oxford (LO), a group that prepares freshmen for leadership roles in their sophomore year, and her sixth year on the Alumni Board. “I stay involved because Oxford gave so much to me. It’s the place where I became who I am.”

For Nelson, Oxford was a transformative college experience for many reasons. She especially enjoyed faculty-student interactions. “Professors were fully involved with research, but were also interested in and involved with students. That’s a beautiful balance.” She feels Oxford’s two-year structure exposes students to leadership opportunities early in their college careers. “That allows for remarkable student development and makes Oxford unique.”

Leadership Oxford and its founder, retired Chaplain Sammy Clark, were among Nelson’s strongest influences. “Sammy is a brilliant minister with an unquenchable love for learning and a passion for social justice. He also happens to be very funny. That refreshing take on authority is compelling for students.”

As a student, Nelson developed a better understanding of herself through LO. As an adult leader, the group still enriches her life. “The students inspire me. It’s thrilling to watch introverted students blossom.” LO also informs her career. “When I started my job, my coworkers and I lacked unity.” Nelson implemented LO values, playing up coworkers’ strengths and encouraging group effectiveness. “We now function as a team, even though we work hundreds of miles apart.”

The dual English/history major never imagined she would end up in the business world, but her liberal arts degree proved advantageous. “It fosters curiosity. My job came about because I was curious, enthusiastic, and had the skills to synthesize information and communicate. Those things are critical in a business conversation.”

Despite a busy professional life, Nelson remains connected with Oxford, a place that inspires her to maintain her own “beautiful balance” between career and social service.

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