Last weekend, Levi Hord went to Toronto as a normal Western student and came back as a 2018 Rhodes Scholar.
Hord is a fourth-year Western University sexuality studies and scholar's elective student in the school for advances studies in arts and humanities. Hord was offered the scholarship last week.
The Rhodes Scholarship is a postgraduate award offered to 95 exceptional students from around the world each year. Recipients are offered tuition at Oxford University for two years and a €17,000 (roughly $28,000 Canadian) stipend for living expenses each year.
Winning the scholarship is no small feat. The scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious in the world.
“I was stunned. I’m still kind of stunned,” Hord said.
Hord’s research focuses on the use of gender-neutral language in transgender communities. Hord hopes to help break down the remaining social and intellectual barriers for individuals outside of the binary gender system.
Preparing for the scholarship was an uphill battle. A 1,000-word essay, two-page CV and six letters of recommendation were required to even be considered. Hord also took part in numerous mock interviews to prepare for the fateful weekend in Toronto.
Hord remembers being told that they would have to make a conscious effort to defend the theory because arts and humanities students are not often selected for the scholarship. During the interview, Hord was surprised by how quickly the panel understood the value in the work.
“That was extremely affirming for me that someone saw the worth in what I do and I didn’t have to fight that extra step,” Hord said.
Hord has been receiving tons of emails from arts and humanities students. Most of them with the same story — they didn’t think they could even get past the interviews with their field of study.
“It’s a validation of the work that we can do in the humanities,” Hord said. “The fact that it's something that’s being recognized, especially in this political climate, tells us much more than anything else can.”
The last time a Western student won the scholarship was in 2013. Over the years, Western has produced 23 Rhodes scholars.
Editor's note (3:01 p.m.): this article has been updated to correctly refer to Hord.