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From Oakland to Oxford: OUSD graduate turns Rhodes Scholar

Oakland Proud: Skyline High grad turns Rhodes scholar
Oakland Proud: Skyline High grad turns Rhodes scholar 02:46

OAKLAND – Eleanor Wikstrom graduated from Skyline High School in Oakland in 2020 and is now the recipient of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

"I graduated in the pandemic. Tom Hanks was my commencement speaker. It was a virtual graduation," said Wikstrom.

A proud graduate of Oakland Unified School District, Wikstrom was captain of the track team and Oakland's vice youth poet laureate in 2019. She says her thirst for knowledge began at a young age.

Eleanor Wikstrom
Eleanor Wikstrom of Oakland, who received a Rhodes scholarship.  KPIX

"I definitely was the girl that was always asking questions. Mostly in class for sure, but also of my parents. I probably pestered them a little bit too much with all the questions I was asking," said Wikstrom.  "But I was very curious, I read all the time. You would would always find me with my nose in a book."

Currently attending Harvard University, Wikstrom will graduate this spring before heading to the University of Oxford in England to study with other scholars.

She said the application process to become a Rhodes Scholar was grueling. "It is a pretty extensive process, you write multiple applications," she said.

Wikstrom credits her Bay Area roots and OUSD education for her success.

"Being truly and genuinely passionate about the work that I am doing and the kind of impact I have on the world. It is something that was cultivated at OUSD," she said.

Wikstrom added, I would love to be a professor, I would love to write and continue to have public conversations about legacies of colonialism, but then also the ways we can reimagine them to make a more just and truthful world.

Her academic advice and words of wisdom are as follows. "Showing up to class every day really counts. If you are involved in a sport, showing up to that practice every day and giving your 100% is that day. It can change based on the day, but not discounting the fact. Success is the product of a 1,000 moments and you can't do something like that overnight," Wikstrom said.

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