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Chicago Native Named A Rhodes Scholar, Wants To Right Wrongs Of Award Namesake

Chicago-native Olivia Klevorn is one of 32 American students who were recently granted a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University, and she sees her award as an opportunity to right some wrongs.

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Olivia Klevorn

Olivia Klevorn said her experience of growing up in segregated Chicago inspired her to study fair housing.

Photo provided by Olivia Klevorn

Chicago-native Olivia Klevorn is one of 32 American students who were recently granted a prestigious Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University, and she sees her award as an opportunity to right some wrongs.

“The Rhodes scholarship is working with an eye toward making change for the people that have, frankly, been disenfranchised by the same sorts of projects that Cecil Rhodes -- the scholarship’s namesake -- began and started in this world. I see it as an opportunity to undo some of the bad that his legacy has implemented,” Klevorn said.

British businessman and South African politician Rhodes was a colonizer and founded the modern diamond industry.

The Rhodes scholarship is named after British businessman Cecil Rhodes. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Growing up in segregated Chicago, Klevorn witnessed housing inequity and the struggles families had in finding a decent place to live. She’s a Yale University senior anthropology major who will study fair housing as a Rhodes Scholar. Her area of focus will be people in disinvested communities.

“Property was of interest to me largely because I’m from Chicago and the city has a rich housing narrative especially in terms of public housing and low-income housing and housing segregation,” Klevorn said.

Natalie Moore is WBEZ’s South Side Bureau reporter. You can follow her @natalieymoore.

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