Alexis Kallen, who graduated from Cam High in 2014, is well-remembered for her academic excellence and diligence. This spring, Kallen will become a Rhodes Scholar studying at Oxford University in England.
During her time at Cam High, Kallen co-founded Cam High’s branch of the Girl Up Club, and was as an active member of the Junior State of America (JSA) in addition to a demanding class load with a number of AP classes. But she also dealt with a number of personal health and family challenges that added to an already difficult schedule.
“She overcame many challenges, from losing her mother at birth and being raised by her grandparents to navigating the world with cerebral palsy,” said Dr Kim Stephenson, principal at Cam High.
Although Kallen was born with a brain condition that affected her speech, she refused to allow her physical limitation prevent her from engaging in public speaking. “In spite of the impediment of cerebral palsy, she became very good at [public speaking]…and students responded very well to her,” said Mr. Shawn Near, JSA advisor.
As an active member in JSA’s state level leadership, Kallen was appointed to the JSA cabinet and was given the responsibility to preside over the annual convention, where students discuss pressing social and political issues.
“Through her involvement in both Girl Up and JSA, Alexis called attention to injustice and fought for people who didn’t have the voice that she had,” said Ms. Lori Pristera, English teacher and ASB Director. “People counted on her because of her ability to see something from conception to fruition.”
After her time at Cam High, Kallen attended Stanford University, where she continued to advocate for equal opportunities for women and was selected as the student speaker at the university’s freshman orientation last fall. Kallen has been an advocate against campus sexual assault at Stanford, encouraging the installation of external video cameras to deter sexual assaults and to help solve crimes, according to Stanford University.
Kallen will graduate from Stanford in June and head to Oxford later this summer. Her current area of focus is International Studies, specifically pertaining to women’s issues. She hopes to pursue a career as an international human rights lawyer.
“Not only was she active locally, but she was also very much heavily involved in activism on an international level,” Stephenson said.
“Alexis has been a fighter ever since she was born and never let anyone tell her that she couldn’t do something,” said Pristera. “Even without her disability, I think she would still be who she is today because her character is what makes her, not her disability.”