Shorecrest Alumnus Jackson Willis ‘15 wins Rhodes Scholarship

by: Stacy Alexander, Director of Alumni and Community Engagement
Shorecrest alumnus Jackson Stovall Willis ‘15 has been named a Rhodes Scholar. 

Rhodes Scholars are chosen for their academic excellence, ability to work with others, commitment to making a positive impact in the world, and their concern for the welfare of others, as well as their awareness of inequities.

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England—ranked the #1 university in the world in some global rankings—and may allow funding in some instances for four years. 

Jackson, a Shorecrest legacy, attended Shorecrest for 14 years beginning in Junior Kindergarten. He was named Outstanding Senior and Valedictorian of the Shorecrest Class of 2015. He was also the School’s first U.S. Presidential Scholar, having received a perfect 1600 on the SAT and the highest possible score - 36 - on the ACT. Jackson participated in Shorecrest’s Global Scholars Initiative and helped establish the Upper School’s Honor Council, serving as President his senior year. In addition to his commitment to academics, he earned an Eagle Scout designation.

“I appreciate my 14 years at Shorecrest, and the support of the administration and my peers. In particular I thank my teachers, who gave me every opportunity to learn,” said Jackson. “Shorecrest will always be a touchstone for me.”

Jackson, one of the 32 selected American Rhodes Scholars will commence his studies at Oxford in October 2021. This year’s class was selected from a pool of 953 applicants who had been nominated by their colleges and universities.  

While at Yale, Jackson studied creedal democracy, development economics and the intersections of law and humanities. At his graduation, Jackson was surprised to receive the prestigious James A. Hass Award, given to “that member of the senior class in Yale College whose breadth of intellectual achievement, strength of character, and fundamental humanity shall be adjudged by the faculty to have provided leadership for his or her fellow students, inspiring in them a love of learning and concern for others.” The Haas recipient and Valedictorian are Yale’s highest senior awards.

“Education is one of the few things that is truly our own. I learned this lesson in the company of amazing teachers, inspiring peers and lifelong friends,” said Jackson.

“Jackson exemplifies what it means for our students to become lifelong learners in the pursuit of personal and academic excellence. He has developed a social responsibility both inside and outside the classroom and continues to use his voice to change society for the better,” said Shorecrest Head of School Nancy Spencer. 

Rhodes Trust Profile of Jackson Willis:
Jackson S. Willis, St. Petersburg, received a B.A. from Yale in 2020, majoring in Humanities and Economics. While completing his B.A., Jackson took a year’s leave to participate in the Peace Corps Response program in Guinea, where he worked to improve youth employment. He was executive director of the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, the college’s largest service organization, served in student government, and was a student curator and gallery guide at the Yale Center for British Art. Jackson has painted St. Petersburg landmarks as a public art muralist and enjoys long-distance running. At Oxford, Jackson will pursue an M.Sc. in Economics for Development and an M.Sc. in Global Governance and Diplomacy.

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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.