An Interview On
Rhodes College

Background

Interview Date:February 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: Arab
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: A private school in Morocco with a graduating class of about 80 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Economics and Business
Minor: International Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in choir, I worked for The Bridge, I worked with the year book, and I was in the French Club for a little bit. I have an RSAP for international students. This is the Rhodes Student Associate Program, where you’re responsible for people participating in work study. It’s about 15 hours per week.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
Being an RSAP for international students has really helped me learn a lot about Rhodes. When I first came here we were about 12 international students, but this year there’s about 45. I’ve seen the population grow, have helped recruit them, and have helped them transition into Rhodes. This has really made my experience at Rhodes so far.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your Economics and Business majors?
Since I’m a double major I’ve been taking classes in the Economics and Business departments since freshman year. I don’t have labs. I generally have problems sets and not a lot of readings or writings, except in some business classes when we have cases. We have to write one-page memos. During the week, I’ll have at least two meetings with groups, because the business classes are very group work focused. In Economics, we have three exams throughout the semester. In the Business classes, about 50% is split between group work and a thesis presentation, and 50% is split between two exams.

Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I think the Economics department is very personable. I’ve been there for four years, so I know everybody and feel comfortable going to professors and talking to them. That’s also because the pool of students majoring in it is smaller, so it’s more personalized. I also like their simplification of the material.

In the Business department, what I don’t like is it’s not that personable because there are a lot of Business majors. I’m interested in finance, but there isn’t a finance concentration. Because Rhodes is a liberal arts college, there aren’t many finance heavy courses. On the other hand, we have an Accounting Master’s, so that’s also available.

How accessible have the professors in your department been?
They have been accessible in both departments, but my relationship is stronger with the Economics department. They are very willing to let you come to office hours, welcome you to their houses, and answer your emails and the questions you may have about a major, or work after college.

How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s more competitive than collaborative, but not to an unhealthy level.

What has been your favorite class in each of your majors?
In Economics it’s been Financial Markets, and in Business it’s been Financial Cases.

Why did you pick your majors? Are you happy with your choices?
I was a physics major in high school, but I was always interested in finance and economics. This was primarily because I didn’t know much about it. I came in with an interest of majoring in Business and Economics, and I’ve stuck with it since declaring during the fall of my sophomore year.

How was transitioning from the high school education system in Morocco to the U.S. college education system? Are there systems in place to help international students adapt? If so, how effective are they?
It’s been pretty smooth because of the heavy requirements I had before college. High school was very tough and demanding, so college hasn’t seemed that bad. My biggest struggle at Rhodes so far has been Search, [a program that helps students think about the meaning and purpose of life]. It’s not made with international students in mind. I’ve never read the Bible, so I get to Rhodes and the first week I read the Bible just because I never have before. The conversations [in class] are about the images and ideas behind the text, which people can talk about because they have so much experience from things such as going to Catholic school.

Are there systems in place to help international students adapt? If so, how effective are they?
I work at the International Students Services, and it’s there to help international students transition smoothly. It does so in the beginning with orientation, and assigns peer advisors who help you throughout the year. This department lacks funding, and needs more focus, which is untestable because there hasn’t been that many international students in the past. Now that the number is increasing, I really think there should be a full-time person dedicated to this. There should be more efforts from the school focusing on the needs of international students.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Trezevant Hall with one roommate

Sophomore: Trezevant Hall with one roommate

Junior: Robinson Hall with one roommate

Senior: East Village with three roommates

How was transitioning from Morocco to Memphis, TN?
It’s been quite challenging because I’m from the capital of Morocco, which is very up and coming. It’s busy, there’s always something to do, and everything is open past 3 AM. The public transportation in Memphis has been challenging. I wanted to go to a liberal arts college, but most liberal arts colleges are in the middle of nowhere. I’m glad we are located in Memphis. It gives you a lot of flexibility and opportunities to go out in the city.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I don’t think it’s very high off campus. I’d say it’s fine as long as you’re cautious.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Rhodes?
It’s a mixture between on campus activities and parties, or going to dinner. I try to get off campus at least twice a week to have a healthy balance.

What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There are a fair number of concerts, music performances, and ballets. I feel that there’s something for everybody in Memphis, and you’ll be able to find it if you look hard enough.

How happy are you with the weekend activities or nightlife at your school? Is there anything you would change if you could?
To be honest I’m happy, but not extremely happy. I come from a busier place. I think Rhodes has been trying to engage the community by offering free Uber, tickets to the movies, or some other events. This has been great and has gotten people to go out into the city to explore more. Personally, I’m not very satisfied but I think some would be.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
My closest friends are international students. I’ve met friends through work, or through the other things I do on campus.

How would you describe the overall social scene at Rhodes?
It’s quite diverse. There’s a group for everybody, and everybody is very accepting of different things. It’s quite affected by who you hang out with your first year. They are generally the ones you stick with until the end. I think this is normal.

To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I don’t think to a high extent. It’s still pretty separated. There are efforts to bring people together, but once you get to your junior and senior year, people stick to the groups they are more comfortable with. For example, if the Black Student Association (BSA) organizes a party or lecture on campus, generally those who attend are those who come to the BSA regularly.

How would you describe the student body?
Not very diverse, which is understandable for the South. Most people are from Texas, Tennessee, and the South as well. It’s primarily White, but I feel like there’s an increasing effort made by the college to recruit people from different backgrounds. [About 28% of students come from Tennessee.]

Do you ever feel that you are more so a resident of Memphis than a student at Rhodes?
I feel like I’m more of a resident of Rhodes.

To what extent do you feel international students mix with domestic students?
I feel that there is some mixture. I have some domestic students as friends, but I do think they are still quite separated. If you tend to get along with people from the same backgrounds, being international may bring you together with those of similar experiences. [Multicultural and international students make up 30% of the Rhodes student body.]

How accepted have you felt as a Muslim student on campus and in the greater community?
I’m pretty accepted. I don’t feel there is any hesitation in the sense that people are very accepting of different religions. I’m not really involved with the Muslim Association on campus, but I see a lot of the events they do. I see a lot of students disregarding their own backgrounds to show their support for Muslim students on campus.

Do people generally seem happy with their college choice of Rhodes by their senior year? Do you think people leave loving Rhodes?
I think so. It’s the entire experience that makes Rhodes. Staying the four years you learn so much about the history of the South, and the city. My sentiments have 100% changed from my first year to my last year. I’m happy with Rhodes and what it has offered me during the past four years personally, professionally, and academically speaking.

How do you like the size of your school? How has the size of your school influenced your social experience? [Rhodes has about 2,000 students.]
I think it’s perfect for me. You really get to see and get to know most people, even if you’re not friends with them. I think this makes the experience more enjoyable.

How strong is the Muslim community on campus?
It’s pretty strong. There are a lot Muslims on campus, but I’m not really involved so I can’t assess that.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I’ve networked very actively with alumni. I started doing that junior year because I’m an international student, so I need to do more work to find a job. The alumni network has been beneficial so far. Everyone that I cold emailed or called has been very happy to talk to a Rhodes student, which is enjoyable. I think the network is very strong.

What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
They’ve been helpful when I need someone to review a cover letter, resume, or anything I have professionally speaking. As an international student, it’s been challenging because Rhodes isn’t used to helping international students get jobs. The opportunities that are available in my major are not geared toward international students.

Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
Just the basics like Excel and PowerPoint. In Economics, we use LaTeX and Stata.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Rhodes before you entered as a freshman?
It would’ve been helpful to know the post-graduation opportunities for international students. I’d love to hear about what international students do after graduating. While the experience at Rhodes is very good, it’s just a stepping stone for your career. It’s not the end goal, it’s the middle man.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Talking to students here should be high on their list. You can learn a lot from the website and videos, but you don’t what it’s like until you talk to people from the school.

Reasons to attend Rhodes:
1) The professors are very accessible, intelligent, and well accomplished.
2) The support the student body has. There’s lots of money for activities on campus.
3) The academic programs offered. I’ve been offered a scholarship to study abroad for two months. There are lots of scholarship and fellowship opportunities available.

Reasons to not attend Rhodes:
1) The location. While it’s a good location for a liberal arts college, if you’re a not a small city kind of person, Memphis will feel suffocating.
2) If you’re an international student looking for a more diverse student body, or are looking for more international experiences and opportunities, Rhodes might not be the best fit for you.
3) If you really know what you want out of a college education you might want to think about going to a liberal arts college. It’ll definitely provide you less technical skills, [but it’ll provide you soft skills]. It’s a conversation you need to have with yourself, whether you want more hard or soft skills.

Notice: Rhodes College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Rhodes College.

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