Kent Denver was delighted to learn that Victoria “Tori” Harwell ’20, currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named a 2024 Rhodes Scholar. One of just 32 students selected from an initial pool of 862 nominees from colleges and universities across the United States, Harwell will attend Oxford University next fall to pursue graduate work in African Studies and Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance.
Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and one of the most celebrated international fellowships. According to the Rhodes Trust, “Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead.”
A talented student and passionate advocate for justice and equity during their time at Kent Denver, Tori was admired by many Kent Denver teachers, including the Class of 2020’s Dean, Bradley Jackson.
"Tori is a resilient, courageous and brilliant person,” Mr. Jackson explained. “From the start of her 9th grade year, Tori stood out as a leader and an advocate. Throughout her time at Kent Denver, Tori used her voice to build others up and to challenge us all to think about our power to impact others. I know that Tori inspired so many of her classmates, and I continue to admire her dedication to advancing justice in our world."
Harwell reflected on their time at Kent Denver in a recent conversation with Alumni Relations Director Hillary Hoffman ‘04. “Kent Denver fostered my ability to be critical and inquisitive of the systems around me,” they said. “The fantastic teachers at Kent saw my potential and helped me develop a range of skills to which I owe a great deal of my success; for that, I am eternally grateful.”
After graduating from Kent Denver, Harwell received the John. B Ervin scholarship, a full tuition merit scholarship to Washington University. With the support of their community, Harwell majored in African and African American Studies and Environmental Analysis at Washington University. Continuing her commitment to work she started at Kent Denver, they pursued community empowerment projects with Black communities in Denver, St. Louis, Ghana, and South Africa, addressing systemic problems such as youth violence at the Public Health Institute at Denver Health. Through the Gephart Institute Summer Fellows Program, Harwell partnered with Great Rivers Environmental Law Firm to provide Black urban farmers in St. Louis with free legal resources. As a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, she is currently completing research on Black and Queer farming in the context of Ghana. Recognizing her commitment to Environmental Justice, she received the Udall Scholarship, a national honor. Harwell is excited to continue partnering with communities that experience extractivism, highlighting their ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change with creative solutions.
Harwell is Kent Denver's second Rhodes Scholar. Elizabeth Mayne ’01 received the fellowship in 2005 and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Physiology from Oxford. She is now a physician, researcher and instructor in Neurology with a focus in pediatric neurocritical care and stroke at Stanford Medical School.
Upper image: Whitney Curtis/Washington University
Lower image: From Kent Denver's 2020 Yearbook
Tori Harwell '20 has been named one of 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars in 2024. She is the second Sun Devil to earn this incredible distinction!
In September, four alumni with careers in the arts shared their professional journeys with Middle and Upper School students during special assemblies in Anschutz Family Theatre.
Catch up with your classmates, and submit your own good news!
Rashida Williams ‘17 currently runs her own creative agency and works as a professional artist out of her studio in Aurora.
Bill Tepley ’78 and Jon Starr ’78 first became friends on the KDS basketball court. They soon discovered a shared interest in music and have been playing in bands together for decades.
Willa Sobel '18 created MASH Mag and then worked with two other Kent Denver alumni to create offshoots of the groundbreaking magazine.
From her time on Kent Denver's campus to her current role with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cambrie Nelson '05 has been a difference-maker.