BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: A private Episcopal school in Greenville, SC with a graduating class of about 98 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Minor: Religious Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I play a varsity sport, and I’m in Greek life. I’m also a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, acting as a liaison between the athletes, the athletic staff, and the rest of the student body.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I’d say both [my sport and my sorority] have helped shaped my life here at Rhodes. Being part of a varsity team, you’re pretty much doing something related to your sport all day every day. Whether it’s practice, working out, eating right, or hanging out with friends that you’ve made from the team. [My sorority] was similar. I’ve gotten the chance to be really involved here. It pushes me academically, and it’s given me the chance to meet people I wouldn’t have met if I didn’t join. It gives you a broader scope of social understanding.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your English major?
It’s a lot of reading and writing. It depends on the class, but I’d say the bulk of my major classes involve reading, and then having group discussions the next day where we analyze and break things down. A lot of the English curriculum focuses on developing your analysis and critical writing skills. It’s a lot of participation, and essays are heavily weighted. It depends on the teacher, but sometimes you’ll have daily work where you have to present thought-provoking ideas to prove you read it, and to develop your skills. It holds you accountable in that way. If you’re more on the grammar side of things, it’s a lot of workbooks and problem sets.
Is there anything you feel the English department does especially well or poorly?
I think one thing I’ve liked about being an English major is how accessible my teachers are. My professors hold office hours regularly, and hold you accountable to attend them with incentives of grade improvement or helpful personal advice. A lot of professors have email policies that force you to go in and talk with them, to develop a relationship. Some of them require you to come in at least twice a semester so you can talk about your work, especially on the creative writing side of things.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s definitely a collaborative process. My teachers have encouraged group work on revising our thesis, as well as developing paper ideas and running them by groups. You do a lot of revising in class with classmates, which is enticing to me because the more people who look at your paper, typically the better it’ll be.
What has been your favorite class in your major?
I really liked 285, which was basically a sophomore seminar. You have one textbook that’s 100 of the best American short stories. You just read short stories that started in 1900, and it’s basically one story from every year. It was cool to see how the language, stories, and literature developed. Some of the most famous writers have stories in there that are largely unknown. I am fascinated with Edgar Allan Poe who is also included in that anthology. I’m currently in a class devoted almost entirely to his work, and love learning about him and his stories.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I originally came in thinking I was going to be a business major, but I took some business courses and didn’t excel in them. As every student does, I took the writing seminar. The next semester I took another writing class because I thought it was fun. I got to the point where I was asking myself why not be an English major, especially if I like the classes. I was fighting [the fact] that I like to write papers, and that I’m good at it. A big reason I was hesitating with that choice was there’s a big stigma behind what jobs are available for people with English degrees. After talking to my advisor, I was assured there are plenty of jobs out there. You don’t necessarily have to be a teacher or writer, but there are skills you’ll take away such as proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking. These will take you far in life, and that was ultimately the icing on the cake for me.
How was managing both your sport and coursework?
It was an adjustment because the coursework wasn’t as nearly demanding in high school. We do a lot of traveling, which makes things complicated. Basically, it boils down to only having so many hours in the day. You use some of them at school, and some at [your sport]. You don’t have any time to waste at the end of the day. Your free time is when you do your homework because you have no other option. It took me a while to figure that out, but once I did things started to fall into place. After learning quickly how to use the time available to me, I found my stress levels going down, I found myself sleeping earlier, and I found that I created more free time for myself. I was a huge procrastinator coming into college, and no matter where you go, that really doesn’t cut it.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Robinson Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: Stewart Hall with one roommate
Junior: Off-campus right down the street with two roommates
How was transitioning from Greenville, SC to Memphis, TN?
Greenville is a pretty small town, similar to Memphis in a lot of ways. The community of Rhodes is similar to the community at my high school, so it was good to adjust to something I felt comfortable in, that wasn’t too different from what I already knew. I had older teammates when I came in who introduced me to a lot of upperclassmen. They really helped me integrate myself into the city and the community. I’ve felt very much like I was eased into everything. Of course, I had a coach who’d been here for twelve years and was helpful in this process as well.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I personally have never had a dangerous experience. That being said, I’m a big proponent of trusting your gut. If something feels wrong it probably is wrong, so don’t do it.
What are the pros and cons of being located in Memphis, TN?
1) Because of where we are, there are a lot of opportunities for Rhodes students to get involved in the workforce and find jobs for their future selves. There are plenty of companies that are looking for Rhodes kids all the time.
2) Something cool about Memphis is it’s on a grid system, and everything is easy to navigate. Most things that a student could need that aren’t’ accessible within the gate of Rhodes, is available within two or three blocks.
1) It’s in a really urbanized area, and there’s a lot of poverty around Rhodes. That being said, there are dangerous areas to go to alone, especially as a female. [The poverty rate in Memphis is nearly 27%.]
2) There’s a high crime rate, and a lot of it takes place right around Rhodes.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Rhodes?
I like doing a lot of everything since I’ve been here. The people who came before me say to make the most out of college and enjoy it. Rhodes offers a lot of free tickets to movies, plays, and local sports events. A lot is going on in the city, and Rhodes is kind of in the middle of everything. When they have free stuff, I like to get a ticket to go to a movie. A lot of times at the local theatres we have professors and students who are in plays, and it’s nice to support them outside of Rhodes. I also like going to parties on and off campus, and bars. There’s a lot to do, and it depends on the kind of night. You have to learn to say no sometimes to take time for yourself or to do your homework, but I think it’ll be easy to say there were hardly be any dull moments here.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There are sports events on campus. I’m a big sports girl, and being an athlete you know a lot of the other athletes. Supporting them is fun.
How did the nightlife differ before and after you joined Greek life?
I want to say not that much because we rushed the second semester my freshman year. I had a lot of opportunities to go to fraternity parties or parties my teammates were throwing as a freshman, where it doesn’t matter what letters you wear. You as a person are welcome. The only thing that changed afterward was the friends I made in my sorority. I’d hang out with them more versus my teammates. When I wasn’t a member, I wasn’t going to the formal events that the sorority plans itself.
Is there anything you would change about the weekend options at Rhodes?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience here overall, so I probably wouldn’t change it. Some nights are more fun than others.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Probably through both my sport and my sorority. The people I spend the most time with are people I’ve been with for years. There are friends I made later on that I have developed strong relationships with and I value them just as equally.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Rhodes?
There are six fraternities and four sororities. Pretty much every weekend fraternities hold events where everyone is welcome, and I’ve spent a lot of time there. People will go to those fraternity parties, and then sometimes we’ll go downtown to bars after. If drinking isn’t your thing, there are definitely other events that people who also don’t drink will hold. Most events at Rhodes are open, and people really advertise their events.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I see people of different races mixing more than people of different sexual orientations. The degree of this varies, and there are organizations for people of certain races and sexual orientations. A lot of times they hold events that have open invitations, in hopes of educating people who aren’t part of those groups about their lifestyle.
Do you feel more so like you’re a resident of Memphis than a student at Rhodes?
I’m really immersed in the Rhodes community, but living off campus, I have also started to become immersed in the Memphis community. I wouldn’t say a lot has changed other than living on a street with neighbors who are both Rhodes students, and some who are adults with families. I don’t know if I’d identify with one more than the other, it feels equal to me.
Do people generally seem happy with their college choice of Rhodes by senior year? Do people leave loving Rhodes?
From my experience, yes. I will say I have one close friend who does complain about their experience a lot, but aside from that, I can’t think of anyone upset about being a Rhodes student.
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 personally enjoy it, and I think I thrive in it. It’s about five times the size of my high school, and it’s definitely impacted my experience. I’ve gotten to know a lot more people and I can still be a face in the crowd if I want to be. The biggest thing is having the respect from lots of friends, classmates, teachers, and not just being another number.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yes. [They have provided me] suggestions and offers. I haven’t begun a permanent job search, but I have had internships and was definitely helped by alumni and their suggestions. I’m hoping to call upon those same people to start looking for a job when I do. That’s one of the reasons I chose Rhodes, because that aspect is so important. I was convinced early on this is an institution that really cares about that. If you’re here over homecoming and see all the alumni from different years come back and host events, they’ll go to lunches to try and network and interact with the kids who came after them.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
My personal experience with them has been really good. I stayed in Memphis the summer after freshman year. I did some compatibility tests to decide what major I was going for, and that the decision to choose English was the right one. They’ve helped me with resumes, they’ve helped me get in touch with potential employees, and they have set up interviews for me. That’s been really nice over my three years.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Rhodes before you entered as a freshman?
Just to make every relationship count. The time you have at Rhodes is fleeting, and people are there to help you. You have so many tools and resources that are waiting to be utilized, you just have to take the initiative. There are definitely things I’ve learned over the past two years to use and call on when needed. It would have been great to know this as a freshman too.
What is something a prospective student-athlete should know that we haven’t touched on?
Come in prepared, and know teammates and coaches are there for you. You might not have the same coach throughout your college experience, so rely on them as you will, but it’s more than just a sport. There’s a lot of value in what you’re doing every day and who you hang out with. If you make the most of it, you’ll walk away four years later feeling complete.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I don’t think this it’s Rhodes specific, but it helped me make my decision. If you are torn between schools, do an overnight visit. This will really push you outside of your comfort zone, and will help you make your decision. A Rhodes specific thing I’d suggest is to try and have a tour from the school, but if you know of anyone from your area, connect with them on Facebook and ask them to sit down and talk about their experience. A lot of people are likely to be really honest with you, and I appreciated having people that I didn’t know that well from home, talk about their experience.
Reasons to attend Rhodes:
1) The career services aspect and how you’ll be set up with a job afterward. [98% of 2016 graduates are employed, attend graduate school, or volunteer full time.]
2) The education is incredibly holistic. You get a lot of breadth and depth, which is really nice.
3) The community here at Rhodes is really strong, holds you accountable, and pushes you to be a better version of yourself.
Reasons to not attend Rhodes:
1) If you don’t want to go to a small school, and know you don’t do well in that environment.
2) If you want to be in a huge city. Memphis is big, but if you’re from a Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York, it’ll be different for you.
3) One of the biggest pitfalls I hear from other students is that the community is small. Your actions are easily known, and word spreads quickly at a small school.