Alumnae: Alumnae Profiles

Alumnae Profiles: Lezli Harvell, D.M.D, C'2000

Broadening Spelman's Global Footprint
From the Spelman Messenger

Lezli Harvell, C'2000, takes pride in her role as an example for her Spelman sisters.

"What speaks most to the impact of the Spelman experience is if alumnae are giving back. I can't expect others to give if I don't give," said Harvell, who along with her husband, Christopher, established the Dr. Lezli Levene Harvell Endowed Scholarship for International Students. "Because Spelman has such an important place in my life, I wanted to give more on a more regular basis."

Harvell started giving regularly in 2010. Last year, she and her husband decided to endow the scholarship that provides assistance for international students to attend Spelman. Global experience is important to the couple, who sent their elementary-age children to boarding school in South Africa. The populations they wanted to help is similar to those they serve in their successful pediatric dental practice DentalKidz, in which 80 percent of patients pay with government-subsidized insurance.

The Harvells were inspired to broaden their reach by Lezli's Jamaican heritage, and her husband's upbringing in an economically depressed inner-city environment, and by conversations they had with the South African mothers of their daughters' friends. These women had attended college in the United States, but had not even considered Spelman.

"Overseas you hear about the Oxfords, the Cambridges and the Ivy League schools," said Harvell. "And you may hear about Smith or Wellesley only through somebody going to the school and coming back and sharing their experience. We were looking for a way to strengthen Spelman's global presence by helping students from other countries attend Spelman."

The couple was also clear that they wanted the scholarship to assist students who are in financial needs, so recipients cannot be U.S. citizens or have dual citizenship from first-world countries.

"We're trying to create access for girls who would not otherwise be able to attend," said Harvell. "We want them to become very successful Spelman graduates when they go back to their countries to help us crate more of a global Spelman community."