30 Years of Women Rhodes Scholars, 30 May – 1 June

by Leana S. Wen (MO & Merton 2007)
May 30, 2008

A weekend of celebration, reflection and conversation

In May 2008, the Rhodes House hosted the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Women Rhodes Scholars (RW30). Women Scholars from all over the world converged at Oxford for the weekend’s events, which included plenary sessions reflecting on the responsibilities of the Scholarship and panel discussions organized by profession that were led by leaders in law, non-profit, public policy, business, science, and the creative arts. Olympic skier and businesswoman Bonnie St. John (California and Trinity, ' 86) delivered a dynamic Saturday keynote in the Sheldonian Theatre, and lawyer Karen Stevenson (Maryland and Magdalen, ’79) followed with a poignant speech on Sunday at the special “Focus on Black Women” event. A formal dinner at Rhodes House along with multiple informal networking socials provided many opportunities for alumni to connect with each other and with the current scholars.

The Scholars expressed that the 30th anniversary celebration had special meaning for them. Many of them commented that the event reaffirmed their sense of community. According to Jessica Leight ( Massachusetts and St. Antony's, ’06), "Our Rhodes classes already foster an incredible community of women who have the shared value of social justice. RW30 offers extension into a much larger community of women alumni, who can be our mentors." In addition to being an important venue for networking, RW30 was an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of women through the years. "When you hear about Rhodes, you always think of white men like Bill Clinton," Namrata Harishankar ( India & St. Anne’s, ’06) pointed out. "But we know there have been female scholars who have achieved things worth knowing. They are worth celebrating." Indeed, RW30 was an inspiring and important opportunity for learning, reflecting, sharing, connecting, and celebrating.

To read session recaps and reflections, and view profiles and interviews, please visit the RW30 blog at www.RW30.wordpress.com. To read the profiles and reflections of over 60 Rhodes Women and see the picture of the participants, see the password protected pages on the Class Letters and Publications page.