Levi Hord has become the 23rd Western student to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, considered one of the world’s most prestigious post-graduate honours.
Named for the British mining magnate and South African politician Cecil John Rhodes, the scholarship offers two years of all-expenses-paid postgraduate study at the University of Oxford. Its 110-year tradition includes three Nobel Prize winners, as well as former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Hord is a fourth-year student in Sexuality Studies, School for Advanced Studies in Arts & Humanities (SASAH) and Scholar’s Electives.
“Getting to be in the best humanities university in the world with people who are just as engaged as I am, I am absolutely thrilled. I can’t wait. There’s no other group of people in this world who could push my thought forward or challenge it. I want my thought to be challenged —that’s the only way we can move forward,” said Hord, who has a passion for furthering transgender academia and theory.
Hord’s research has focused on the use of gender-neutral language in transgender communities, as well as mechanisms of contemporary identity formation and the renegotiation of gendered meanings amid proliferations of transgender identities. Hord uses the neutral pronouns “they/them.”
Hord also led a team of students at Woodland Cemetery in London last summer as they unearthed, documented and restored hundreds of gravestones that had been all but lost to history.
At Oxford, Hord plans on doing a double master’s – two one-year degrees, the first in women’s studies and the second either in political theory or with the Internet Institute at the university — while also continuing with advocacy work.
Being a Rhodes Scholar isn’t just a personal accomplishment but an acknowledgment that sexuality studies and the humanities are worthwhile, Hord said. “It’s work that needs to be done.”
Just two Rhodes Scholarships are awarded to Ontarians every year, among the 11 awarded annually in Canada. Western has helped to support 23 successful candidates over the years; the most recent, before Hord, in 2013.
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