BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Gay
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: A public high school in Indianapolis, Indiana with a graduating class of about 400 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Psychology and Political Science double major
Minor: Gender and Sexuality Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I was on Mock Trial for the first three years, and I’m on a psychology research team. I’m also involved in Planned Parenthood Generation Action, which organizes volunteerism for Planned Parenthood on campuses.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I’d say they all did. I met a lot of people through them. I’ve met some of my really good friends in Mock Trial, and I’ve also developed skills. Planned Parenthood Generation Action helped me get involved in the community and the causes that I’m interested in. The research team shaped my academic and extracurricular experiences as well.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your Psychology and Political Science majors?
It depends on the class. In Political Science, it’s mostly papers. In Psychology, most of the time there is a paper or written component, in addition to comprehension type tests on the content. You have to use the content to write a few papers, or a final. There are no problem sets.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
I think the Psychology department does a really good job at integrating students into research experiences. There’s a big emphasis on thought.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s mostly collaborative, but there’s some competition. I’d say Political Science is more competitive, but both are still pretty collaborative. Nothing is graded on a curve, it’s just more so the student’s attitudes.
Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom? Do the professors do a good job of equally representing both sides of an argument?
Yes, they definitely are. Most of the time the [professors do a good job of equally representing both sides of an argument]. It’s a rare occurrence where an argument is skewed, but it’s almost always fairly represented.
What has been your favorite class in each of your majors?
In Psychology, it’s Social Psychology. In Political Science, it’s a tie between U.S. Politics and Introduction to Public Policy. I really liked U.S. Politics because our professor gave us an interesting historical and critical perspective that you usually don’t get. I really liked my Public Policy class because it was super informative. We got to write three papers on a topic we picked.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I’m happy with my choice. Coming in I wanted to do some combination with Psychology and Gender and Sexuality Studies, but I didn’t know which one to major or minor in. I was pretty set on majoring in Psychology by sophomore year, just because I’d taken a good number of classes and liked them. I decided to also major in Political Science because it interested me and I still wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go career-wise. Either toward a public policy area with a more social approach, or toward a more psychological approach. I did both to keep my options open.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived during college?
Freshman: Glassell Hall with two roommates
Sophomore: West Village with one roommate and six suitemates
Junior: Robinson Hall in a single
Senior: East Village in a single, but in a suite with three others
How was transitioning from Indianapolis, IN to Memphis, TN?
It was fine. It’s a pretty different city and a little more Southern, in terms of yes ma’am and no ma’am. I didn’t explore Indianapolis much in high school, but I’ve definitely gotten more involved in Memphis. This just comes from living close to the city.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve almost always felt safe.
What are the pros and cons of being located in Memphis, TN?
1) It gives students a lot of opportunities to get involved in the community.
2) It’s not in the middle of nowhere, which is nice.
1) It lacks public transportation, so it’s hard for students who don’t have their own vehicle to get around.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Rhodes?
We’ll go to restaurants and bars on the weekends, but we’ll also just hang out with friends. I haven’t been to a frat party in a long time.
What are your favorite events or activities in Memphis or at Rhodes?
Rhodes does a good job of bringing in excellent lecturers. It’s fun to go to those.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
I’ve been to the Orpheum Theatre and Playhouse on the Square, where they sometimes have musicals and plays. I’ve also gone to a few concerts while Memphis.
How has identifying as LGBT influenced your nightlife experience? Is there an active LGBTQ nightlife scene?
I don’t know if it has. There aren’t really specific clubs or bars that are specific to the community. It’s pretty much the same because you go to the same places.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Some were part of Mock Trial, and some lived in my building freshman year.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Rhodes?
It’s pretty friendly. Greek life definitely dominates it, but it’s not super exclusive. I have a lot of Greek and non-Greek friends. It’s not super cohesive, but it’s also not super cliquey. [52% of students belong to social fraternities and sororities.]
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
There’s a good amount of mixing and diversity among friendships and social groups. [30% of the student body is either multicultural or international.]
How would you describe the student body?
There’s a sense of wanting to get involved with the community. A typical Rhodes student is serious about school, likes to get involved in the community, but will also party and isn’t hyper-focused on school. [More than 80% of students at Rhodes participate in community service.]
Do you feel more so like you’re a resident of Memphis than a student at Rhodes?
Probably both, but if I had to choose one, I’d probably say a student at Rhodes.
Do people generally seem happy with their college choice of Rhodes by senior year? Do people leave loving Rhodes?
Yeah. I don’t know if they love it, but they are happy with it.
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 wasn’t super excited about how small it was coming in, and it’s about the same size as my high school. The social situation can feel like high school sometimes, because it’s so small and you pretty much know everyone, or can at least recognize their name. It’s turned out to be pretty good, especially academically because it offers you lots of opportunities that bigger schools don’t. There are opportunities to work with professors more collaboratively, especially thinking about research. Professors are always available and care about you. Slipping through the cracks is hard.
How strong is the LGBTQ community on campus?
There are a lot of people who identify that way. In terms of being a cohesive community that organizes stuff, I’d say it’s pretty middle of the road.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I’ve been to a few events they’ve hosted, but I’ve never gone in for resume help.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
I’ve learned to use Endive qualitative data analysis software, SPSS, and Stata.
Have you used financial aid? If so, accommodating was the office to your needs?
Yes, I have, and it was the best financial aid package I got out of the places I applied. [65% of the class of 2020 receive need-based aid.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something a prospective LGBTQ student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
We have an awesome Gender and Sexuality Studies program. I’d suggest taking classes within that program because it’s a way to meet people interested in that kind of thing.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
I would see more Memphis stuff. A lot of the visits focus within the gates of Rhodes, and I think it’s important to get a sense of the outside community.
Reasons to attend Rhodes:
1) The financial aid is excellent. They are willing to work with you on making it affordable.
2) There are fantastic research and community engagement opportunities.
3) Summer programs like the Rhodes Institute and Summer Service Fellowship.
Reasons to not attend Rhodes:
1) Sometimes the administration isn’t as responsive to students as they could be.
2) There’s a tendency for the campus culture to lean a little more conservative, and it can sometimes be excluding. It can feel traditional in a bad sense.