DURHAM, N.C. – Kendall Jefferys, a Duke University senior majoring in Environmental Sciences & Policy (ESP) and English, has been a named a Rhodes Scholar.

She is one of two Duke undergraduates and only 32 students nationwide selected for the prestigious honor this year.

Rhodes Scholarships cover all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Recipients are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and a commitment to service, among other attributes.

Jefferys is the second Nicholas School of the Environment undergraduate in recent years to be named a Rhodes Scholar. In 2018, Claire Wang, also an ESP major, was selected.

“I speak for everyone at the Nicholas School when I say how proud we are of Kendall and how thankful we are to have her as part of our community,” said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School.

“Having two Rhodes Scholars in three years is remarkable for a school our size,” Steelman noted. “It says a lot about the amazing caliber of our students and our faculty who teach and mentor them.”  

Being selected as a Rhodes Scholar caps an exemplary and busy undergraduate career for Jefferys.

In 2018 she was named a Rachel Carson Scholar, enabling her to study extensively at the Duke University Marine Lab (DUML) in Beaufort, N.C., and conduct research at DUML’s Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab and its Science and Conservation Lab. Her independent research project focuses on using remote sensing to analyze land-cover changes and ecosystem responses in the Outer Banks.

Among her many other awards and accomplishments, she has served as Presidential Intern and Fellow at the Rachel Carson Council; been invited to help edit a new edition of one of Rachel Carson’s books; was awarded the 2020 Benenson Award in the Arts for creative writing; and served as a resident assistant, communications intern and crew member for the Duke Campus Farm. She has been active in Sustainable Duke as an intern and member of the environmental justice team, and also been active in Food for Thought, a campus group focused on food security and farmworker rights. 

She is currently writing a novel and has been accepted to the highly competitive Middlebury Bread Loaf Environmental Writer’s Conference this summer.

“I want to thank my professors, family and friends who inspired me and believed in me,” Jefferys said. “I am honored to have been selected for the Rhodes Scholarship."

At Oxford, Jefferys plans to pursue graduate studies in English and in biodiversity, conservation and environmental management – a decision that comes as no surprise to Meagan Dunphy-Daly, faculty director of Duke’s Rachel Carson Scholarship Program and an instructor at the Nicholas School who has taught and mentored Jefferys.

“To me, Kendall is the perfect example of a modern-day Rachel Carson – she’s a fantastic writer and a dedicated scientist, and she plans to use her voice to support conservation and create change in our world,” Dunphy-Daly said.  

Duke’s other newly named Rhodes Scholar this year is Jamal Burns, a senior majoring in history with a concentration in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies.

“I am delighted to congratulate Jamal and Kendall on receiving the Rhodes Scholarship, an extraordinary culmination of all that they have accomplished at Duke,” said Duke President Vincent E. Price. “When Kendall and Jamal arrive in Oxford next fall, they will join dozens of Duke graduates throughout history in embarking on this most prestigious of academic pursuits, one that is very well-deserved.”